Mozart: Piano Music for Four Hands; Sonata in F, K497; Sonata in C, K521; Allegro & Andante (Fantasy) in F minor, K608; Adagio & Allegro in F minor, K594

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COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: Ottavo
WORKS: Piano Music for Four Hands; Sonata in F, K497; Sonata in C, K521; Allegro & Andante (Fantasy) in F minor, K608; Adagio & Allegro in F minor, K594
PERFORMER: Imogen Cooper, Anne Queffélec (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: OTR C129242 DDD (distr. Priory)
Mozart wrote his first piano duet – one of the earliest works of its kind – during his visit to London in 1764-5. Legend has it that the eight-year-old Wunderkind sat on JC Bach’s lap while they improvised at the keyboard together. Mozart returned to four-hands composition on several occasions during his mature years – indeed, his duet output is surpassed only by Schubert’s.

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The grandest and most ambitious of Mozart’s duets is the Sonata in F, K497, a work weighty enough for Donald Francis Tovey to have included it alongside Mozart’s symphonies in his famous Essays in Musical Analysis. Equally imposing are the two Fantasies in F minor, originally intended for a mechanical organ housed in a clock; at the other end of the scale are the Variations in G, K501 – a perfect piece of intimate chamber music.

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Sadly, Imogen Cooper and Anne Queffélec find no room for the Variations, though of these two discs of the late duets theirs is the one to own: playing of unfailing warmth and musicality which gets right to the heart of this wonderful music. András Schiff and George Malcolm, recorded on Mozart’s own fortepiano in Salzburg, take a rather more dramatic, not to say assertive, view. The two Fantasies are splendidly handled, but there is a hint of rhythmic unsteadiness in the F major Sonata’s virtuoso finale. Misha Donat