Kristian Bezuidenhout plays Mozart

'Radical changes to the printed text'

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LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: Keyboard Music, Vols 8 & 9: Sonatas in C, K279 & K545; Variations in F, K352; Suite in C, K399; Modulating Prelude in F-C, etc
PERFORMER: Kristian Bezuidenhout (piano)


These last two volumes in Kristian Bezuidenhout’s extensive Mozart cycle, issued as a double-album, contain well known pieces alongside a few rarities. Among the latter are a series of modulating preludes, a pair of incomplete sonata movements, and a suite in Baroque style which probably arose out of Mozart’s study of Handel and Bach in 1782. The suite remained unfinished, too, stopping short after only five bars of its Sarabande; but by using the completion of the Sarabande by his fellow fortepiano specialist Robert Levin, and drawing in a later minuet and a gigue – both of them miniature masterpieces – Bezuidenhout has cleverly managed to construct a complete Baroque sequence of movements. Of the remaining repertoire on these discs, only the Variations outstay their welcome. Bezuidenhout does what he can to inject some variety into them in terms of tempo and character, but he can’t rescue them from tediousness.

One may question, though, his use of ornamentation. It’s true that we have one or two notated examples of Mozart’s own elaborations of his slow movements; but Mozart is Mozart, and his ornamentation does not compromise the music’s integrity and coherence in the way that Bezuidenhout’s radical changes to the printed text all too often do. No one is likely to be offended by the occasional added ornament, but to hear a player of his talent and ability effectively recompose the music in this way is exasperating.


Misha Donat