On October 4, 2019, the internationally acclaimed pianist and conductor Benjamin Hochman released his debut concerto recording with the English Chamber Orchestra on Avie Records featuring two of Mozart’s piano concertos, the joyful and lyrical No. 17 in G major, and the dark and dramatic No. 24 in C minor. Possessed of an intellectual and heartfelt musical inquisitiveness, Hochman’s playing was described by the Vancouver Sun as “stylish and lucid, with patrician authority and touches of elegant wit.” The New York Times wrote of him “classical music doesn’t get better than this.” Joining forces with the English Chamber Orchestra, the most recorded chamber orchestra in the world with discography containing 860 recordings of over 1,500 works by more than 400 composers, Hochman showcases his new conductorial skills and shares his deep personal connection to Mozart’s music.
“This recording of the Mozart Piano Concertos K. 453 and 491 is the result of a period of immersion in Mozart’s music that I have been undertaking for the last couple of years. The reason for this immersion is primarily my love for Mozart’s music, which I have felt for a long time. It also began at a time in my life when I was interested in taking on a big project, concentrating on one particular composer and seeing what that experience was like. It allowed me to go much deeper into his music and learn a lot about his musical language, form, expression, and style. It has been deeply rewarding.”
Explaining why he chose to record these specific concertos, No. 17 and 24, Hochman stated,
“I chose to record these two concertos because to me they are mirror images of each other. The G major is full of sunshine and joy, but it also has these moments of darkness that show complexity, whereas the C minor is essentially tragic, full of fury and storm, yet it also has moments of calm and resignation, including much of the slow movement. Also, the last movements of the two concertos are both in variation form- the only two final movements of Mozart Piano Concertos that are variations. For these reasons, the two concertos really complement each other very well.”
Speaking about his first collaboration with one of the finest Mozartian orchestras in the world, English Chamber Orchestra, Hochman praised, “I grew up listening to so many recordings of the English Chamber Orchestra with artistic giants like Daniel Barenboim, Murray Perahia, and Mitsuko Uchida. This really made a profound impression on me. Therefore, it was an immense pleasure to make music with this remarkable orchestra.”
“Mozart’s music expresses so much about the human condition, but it also gives us something we truly need. Perhaps now more than ever, we need that nourishment: musical, artistic, spiritual, however you want to describe it.” Hochman stated, “To me, his piano concertos are some of the greatest expressions of his art.”
Recorded in April 2019 at St. John Smith Square, London, the disc was engineered by Dennis Patterson and produced by Eric Wen.
Of his previous album, Russell Platt of the New Yorker said, “Variations (Avie),is another testament to his talent… There is something feline and elusive about this artist, as if he were providing us with but a portion of his capacious musical imagination. I look forward to sampling more of it.”
Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos. 17 & 24 is now available everywhere for purchase or stream.