Mozart: Piano Sonata in C, K279; Piano Sonata in F, K280; Piano Sonata in B flat, K281; Piano Sonata in E flat, K282

Our rating 
2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: Glossa
WORKS: Piano Sonata in C, K279; Piano Sonata in F, K280; Piano Sonata in B flat, K281; Piano Sonata in E flat, K282
PERFORMER: Patrick Cohen (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: GCD 920503
These are performances in which the hand of the interpreter looms large. Much thought clearly lies behind them, and much scholarship too. Cohen is a very capable player, and there are moments of real delicacy here, of real art even. Sadly, they’re the more noticeable for being so relatively rare. His interpretations are highly personal, permeated by a degree and kind of rhythmic displacement that I have to confess I find irritating and mannered in the extreme: not only the pervasive use of agogic stresses (accents of time rather than force), but little rushings and holdings back which would seem to me to fly in the face of everything Mozart himself has to say, in his letters, on the subject of time, ‘the first requisite in music’.

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The effect, on this listener at least, is coy beyond bearing. More’s the pity, because I’ve enjoyed and admired several of Cohen’s previous recordings. Unfortunately, his playing here reminds me of nothing so forcibly as Mozart’s own merciless accounts of the playing of Nanette Stein (as a child) and the person of Josepha Auernhammer, the former for her self-indulgent rhythmic liberties, the latter for the exhibitionism of her dress (‘Pray do look here!’). Jeremy Siepmann