Mozart: Piano Sonatas (complete)

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LABELS: Philips
WORKS: Piano Sonatas (complete)
PERFORMER: Mitsuko Uchida (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 468 356-2 Reissue (1983-6)
It was Uchida’s concert performances and these subsequent recordings of the Mozart sonatas that catapulted her into the world class, where she has remained ever since. Her Mozart concerto recordings with Jeffrey Tate and the English Chamber Orchestra confirmed her as one of the finest, most discriminating and accomplished Mozartians around. Mozart’s own requirements for the performance of his music were simply stated. It must have ‘taste and feeling’ and it should ‘flow like oil’ (interestingly, Beethoven recalled Mozart’s own playing as being ‘rather choppy’). As many fine pianists have demonstrated, it’s possible to play with taste and feeling and still be rather dull. Uchida is never that, though her playing is utterly without idiosyncrasy. Occasionally I could do with still more oil, a still more ‘vocal’ projection of lines, as I occasionally yearn for a little more variety of coloration, but these things are always very personal and I wouldn’t characterise this reservation as a criticism. Closer to my own ideal is Christian Zacharias (currently unavailable), whose greatest Mozart-playing is of such refinement, such imagination and such jaw-dropping beauty of phrasing as to put him in a category by himself (or at least neck and neck with Perahia), but this is playing of quite exceptional distinction. Jeremy Siepmann