Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The statesman who played Mozart

Helmut Schmidt, the former chancellor of West Germany (1974-82) who has died at 96, was one of the few statesmen of his time (or any other) whose legacy includes a classical recording – not merely as a narrator or celebrity conductor, but hands-on.

In 1981, Schmidt played third piano, behind Christoph Eschenbach and Justus Franz, in Mozart’s Concerto in F major, K. 242 (“Lodron”), recorded with the London Philharmonic.

Norman Lebrecht, on his Slipped Disc blog – http://www.slippedisc.com – recounts this story: When Schmidt heard the edited recording, “the chancellor said he had no idea he was such a good pianist. He wasn’t; EMI had great editors in those days.”

The disc is still in circulation (EMI Classics 67031).