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Pascal Roge - Mozart Concertos 9 & 25

AUDIOHILE AUDITION REVIEW - 28 Feb 2007 - Gary Lemco ****
Pascal Roge - already proven so deft and articulate in the music of Poulenc, Faure, and Debussy - brings his innately graceful, fluent style to bear on two Mozart concertos. The lovely oboe solo with piano in the development of the E-flat Concerto (1777), with its poignant episodes in F Minor and figures that adumbrate the D Minor Concerto, K. 466, simply beguiles. After any number of scintillating, running passages and virtuoso effects like crossed hand, trills, an expansive tessitura, the cadenza conveys a touching serenity. Leppard emphases the uncanny, metric character of the Andantino, with its seven and nine-bar lengths, its pained harmonic modulations. The strings open in canon, muted. The chromatic, resigned affect derives almost entirely from C.P. E. Bach. Lithe agility for the Rondeau, a brisk energy permeating the collaboration, the menuet in the subdominant assuming a galant, old-world charm.
The epic contours of the C Major (1786) make a grand impression, with Roge and Leppard collaborating in an airy, high-minded account of noble power, a symphonic concept. The keynote G provides a fixed point around which Mozart weaves a forest of exquisite harmony, major and minor. Six part polyphony says something about Mozart's skills as an orchestrator. Military riffs play off against liquid Mannhein rockets and lovely arioso figures in the keyboard part. Occasionally, Roge achieves that music-box sonority (up against oboe and bassoon) that well defines the modern Mozartean. A thrilling first movement cadenza, which I assume is Roge's very own. The Andante exploits the delay of harmonic resolutions, yet the plangent beauty of the unfolding melos is never compromised. Whiplash runs from both orchestra and solo for the final Allegretto and suddenly, the piano bestows on us a lovely melody and its ornaments, bubbly pageantry. Piano, flute, oboe, and low strings make a combination that only Mozart can blend together.
The Rondo in A (1782) is a Vienna product by Mozart, first cames to my notice via Clara Haskil. The writing has operatic aspirations, the piano often treating the main theme as an aria ripe with chromatic, variable possibilities. A happy display piece, it provides for Roge a natural vehicle for his tender mercies. The Indianapolis Symphony, which I first heard under Fabien Sevitzky, then much later via John Nelson, sounds great, warmly intimate. Their Mozart froths in a totally idiomatic style, a thoroughly European aura.
***** Martin Cotton
Raymond Leppard moulds the opening tutti of K271 with energy and precision, and a sense of timing which is shared by Pascal Roge. They have obviously worked to make sure that they turn all the corners at the same speed and at the same time, and the result is very refreshing. The recording, on the dry side and slightly close on the piano, suits this movement, but is too analytical for the tragic central Andantino where the pulsing strings need more warmth and aura around them, meticulous though Leppard's phrasing is. But the finales is perfectly paced, with the central minuet hitting the right tempo and mood.
Although it comes from only nine years later, K503 is a work of Mozart's maturity, sharing not only the key of the Jupiter symphony but also something of its sonority and compositional authority. That's well captured by Leppard and the orchestra, and Roge finds a greater depth of tone here as well. The first movement has real majesty and coherence in its phrasing and dynamic shaping. In many ways these are old-fashioned perfomances, but they never lose sight of Mozart's extraordinary genius. 
GRAMOPHONE- JAN 2007 - Nalen Anthoni
Throughout these performances [Roge] proves to be a supreme technician and deeply sensitive musician. Moreover, he is given wholehearted support by Leppard who is complete control of orchestral texture and instrumental balance.."
5 in French "Diapason" Magazine February 2007
www.resmusica.com - Gary Holding 3.1.07
« Enregistrer la musique que j’aime avec les gens que j’aime », tel a toujours été le vœu de Pascal Rogé, un rêve qu’il concrétise aujourd’hui grâce au label ONYX et Rogé Edition. Celui qui aime à se faire passer pour l’ambassadeur de la musique française fait un détour en cette fin d’année 2006 avec une contribution tardive à Mozart. Mais en réalité ce disque est l’accomplissement de son rêve de jeunesse : enregistrer avec Raymond Leppard, le chef qu’il admirait tant pour son interprétation de la musique baroque avec le English Chamber Orchestra. Il est ici le premier « chef invité » à collaborer à Rogé Edition.
     Les deux concertos pour piano de Mozart choisis pour ce disque sont deux chef-d’œuvres qui correspondent à deux stades différents de la maturité du Génie salzbourgeois : le Concerto n°9 en mi bémol majeur K271 surnommé « Jeunehomme », rempli de fraîcheur juvénile malgré un mouvement lent d’un pathétisme étonnant, et le magistral Concerto n°25 en do majeur K503, sans doute le plus symphonique de tous les concertos de Mozart.
     Avec son toucher tout en délicatesse, Pascal Rogé fait ressortir de la musique de Mozart toute sa quintessence spirituelle et poétique. On a l’impression que le piano c’est Mozart lui-même, son âme, sa poésie intérieure. Même aux moments les plus sereins et les plus insoucieux, le piano de Pascal Rogé semble révéler une sorte de fragilité masquée, un doute. Le mouvement lent du Concerto n°9, une des pages les plus poignantes de Mozart, est ici absolument renversant.
     Raymond Leppard et l’Orchestre Symphonique d’Indianapolis soutiennent bien le pianiste français, même si on peut reprocher aux cordes quelques soucis de justesse. Aussi, les petits bruits de souffle et de marmonnements sont-ils un peu gênants, à croire qu’un certain célèbre pianiste canadien se soit invité à l’enregistrement… !
     Un beau disque malgré tout, difficile à hiérarchiser tant la discographie Mozart est féconde, mais des concertos singularisés par la personnalité de leurs interprètes, avec un Pascal Rogé éblouissant de finesse et de pureté.

American Record Guide May/June 2007

"...assertive without more passion than Mozart needs. His cadenza, new to me and uncredited, is very nicely done. He is most impressive, though, in the sprightly finale which has an unbuttoned, impulsive feel to it." - Althouse