“As pianist Rasa Vitkauskaite points out in her extensive and informative program notes to this new release, the strongest link from Mozart to Beethoven wasn’t personal. It was the piano and the revolution in piano concertos that Mozart brought about.
Vitkauskaite makes a strong case for this link in two outstanding performances... Ironically, the fashion for period performance knocked both concertos off their heroic pedestals—today one is as likely to hear tinkly Beethoven as tinkly Mozart.
Vitkauskaite and conductor Jonathan Cohler bring a welcome restoration—these are large-scaled performances filled with musical passion... She plays the solo part as boldly as Rudolf Serkin, and he conducts with more dramatic force than George Szell in their Columbia Records account...
If you agree with their approach, as I wholeheartedly do, Vitkauskaite and Cohler deliver an ideal Mozart performance, abetted by beautiful playing from the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra and up-to-date engineering that combines inner detail with overall impact. The full dynamic range of the piano is vividly conveyed, as is the dynamic range of Mozart’s score... [In the Beethoven] Cohler offers an orchestral part that is fully symphonic and beautifully shaped. He is best known as an acclaimed clarinetist, but his podium skills are impressive...
Serkin again comes to mind in his Beethoven Third Concerto with Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic from the 1960s, a particular favorite of mine. This new reading rivals it for exuberance, high energy, charisma, and the heroic spirit of Beethoven’s middle period. The first-movement cadenza is thrilling in Vitkauskaite’s hands. I hasten to add that she and Cohler do not cut Mozart and Beethoven from the same cloth but attend to the characteristic style of each... the pianist’s legato line... is as exemplary as the rest of her technique...
I had no expectations... that this new release would be quite as superb as it turned out to be. Strongly recommended. ”
“artistry of poetic and observant sensitivity…a musician with a keen ear for colour and structure…vital glowing performances…illuminating and nuanced…Vitkauskaite finds a fine balance between lyricism and buoyancy [in the Beethoven], applying judicious flexibility to lines while maintaining narrative cohesion.”
“Vitkauskaite has established an enviable reputation as an intelligent performer who injects insight into every note and whose phrasing is nigh on perfect… breathtakingly beautiful and it is all you can do not to hear it again immediately… she can voice every emotion and every state inferred from gentle lullaby-like phrasing to volcanic outbursts… extremely satisfying and thrillingly executed...”