Piano Concerto No. 21 in C; Piano Sonata No. 10 in C; Fantasy in C minor; Variations in C on ‘Lison dormait’
Yeol Eum Son (piano); Academy of St Martin in the Fields/Neville Marriner
Onyx ONYX4186 70:12 mins
This account of the C major Piano Concerto K467 turns out to be Sir Neville Marriner’s last recording, made two years ago. It finds him and the ever-faithful Academy of St Martin in the Fields doing what they did best: Mozart in elegant, unpretentious style, with great attention to detail that never unbalances the bigger picture and longer lines. This is Mozart for both heart and mind, without distraction by mannerism or exaggeration. The soloist is Yeol Eum Son, who has previously scooped second prizes at the Tchaikovsky and Van Cliburn competitions and to judge from this recording she is well worth Marriner’s attention and ours.
It’s a straightforward, beautifully balanced and thoroughly enjoyable account, with Son’s phrasing and the woodwind solos blending into their exchanges to the manner born, and every piece of passagework as clear as ‘pouring oil’. In the solo piano music Son’s playing is similarly elegant, thoughtful and intelligently articulated, with an excellent feeling for shifts of shading and nuance in the harmonies. The Variations and indeed the Sonata are comparatively slight works in emotional terms and Son conveys them perhaps with more determination than wit, but she unleashes satisfying drama in the C minor Fantasy. I suspect she might have made a stronger overall impression had she perhaps chosen different repertoire – for instance, starting the solo selection with the Fantasy and following it with the big C minor Sonata – but I look forward to hearing her again. Last but not least, the sound quality is extremely good.