Maria-Joào Pires has recorded these concertos before, for Erato, and this experience shows in assured playing. In K449 I find the sound of the Vienna Philharmonic, recorded in Vienna's Musikverein, too big: the string section seems large and the hall over-reverberant. Furthermore, the piano sounds plummy, and even those who dislike the fortepiano may question its suitability. With these reservations, one can enjoy Pires's deft and sensitive performance, without strong individuality but offering consistent intelligence, and the brisk finale shows her and Abbado at their best. Even so, this is a romanticized slow movement; the gooey orchestral sound does not help, but the pianist is also partly responsible in a way that I have sometimes noted in her performances of Mozart's sonatas.
For this all-Mozart twofer from Sony, piano virtuoso Lang Lang, conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt, and the Vienna Philharmonic present a program of piano concertos, piano sonatas, and several short solo pieces that give a good sampling of the composer's keyboard output. The roster may provoke some cognitive dissonance, though, because Harnoncourt is best known for historically informed period interpretations of Mozart, while Lang Lang and the Vienna Philharmonic are more associated with a conventional, mainstream performance style. One might expect some compromise between the two camps, yet while the orchestra incorporates some aspects of Classical sound into its playing, it remains a modern orchestra of full size, and Harnoncourt doesn't ask for the tone colors and techniques he would demand of his own Concentus Musicus Wien. For the soloist's part, Lang Lang is rather restrained and sensitive to the character of the music, and apart from some showiness in his cadenzas, he shows less of the ebullience and bravura playing he otherwise shows in Liszt or Rachmaninov.
For a few decades now, Fritz Reiner's recording of the Verdi Requiem (one of his rare stereo recordings not made for RCA, and not with the Chicago Symphony) has lurked in the shadowy corners of Decca's catalog, appearing only on budget LPs and CD two-fers. Now, in its latest incarnation as part of the Decca Legends series, it may at last get the recognition it deserves. Reiner's rendition has several things going for it, not least of which are the superstar soprano and tenor soloists.