Mozart: Piano Sonata in D, K311; Piano Sonata in C minor, K457; Piano Sonata in B flat, K570; Fantasia in C minor, K475; Adagio in B minor, K540

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COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: Decca
WORKS: Piano Sonata in D, K311; Piano Sonata in C minor, K457; Piano Sonata in B flat, K570; Fantasia in C minor, K475; Adagio in B minor, K540
PERFORMER: Vladimir Ashkenazy (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 448 629-2 DDD
The recording of Mozart’s piano sonatas always poses a problem, or it should. This is first and foremost players’ music, piano recitals as such being unknown in Mozart’s time. Do you then record it in a closely miked, intimate, player’s-ear perspective or do you opt for the atmosphere of a concert hall (and if so, is it an empty or a full one)? Personally, I prefer the former option, though here I appear to differ with the Decca team. The performer, too, has to make a similar choice. Ashkenazy, in this very shrewdly built recital, goes for the middle ground, neither over-projecting the music nor confining it. His credentials as a scrupulously musical Mozartian were dramatically illustrated in his complete cycle of the concertos, yet this release marks his first recording of Mozart sonatas since 1968. As in his playing of the concertos, he makes no attempt here to emulate the characteristic, incisive, rather brittle sound of the fortepiano, and there is nothing whatever mannered or didactic in his interpretations. Like the composer, he shuns exaggeration of any kind and allows the music to speak for itself, yet the playing is by no means ascetic. Full in tone, and phrased with an immaculately judged balance of small-scale detail and large-scale structural clarity, these are immensely attractive and often involving performances by an artist whose prolific output is so staggering that we too easily take him for granted. Jeremy Siepmann

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