Mozart: Piano Sonatas (complete)

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LABELS: Arte Nova
WORKS: Piano Sonatas (complete)
PERFORMER: Michael Endres (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 74321 63639 2
Few people will have heard of Michael Endres, but he’s a superior pianist. Artur Schnabel, who rarely let reality stand in the way of a memorable aphorism, famously described Mozart’s piano sonatas as being ‘too easy for beginners and too difficult for artists’. Neither, of course, is precisely true, but the point holds. Mozart’s piano writing is so economical, so meticulously judged, so perfectly sufficient to his musical needs, that he leaves the performer nowhere to hide. Because the performer is so mercilessly exposed, and requires such rare sophistication of his interpreters, the truly first-class Mozart pianist is still a relatively rare bird, but the ‘relatively’ is important. A world that can boast at one and the same time such outstanding Mozartians as Barenboim, Brendel, Goode, Lupu, Perahia, Pires, Roll, Schiff, Uchida, Vásáry and Zacharias (to name only some) can hardly call itself undernourished. And on the basis of this release, we must add Endres to the list. In his sense of proportion, elegance of phrasing, clarity of articulation and polished tone he need bow to no one. He is historically informed but not a fortepianist manqué, expressive but not overly ‘Romantic’ (though some might say of him, as was said of that outstanding Mozartian Walter Klien, that he plays Mozart ‘as Chopin might have’; card-carrying purists may well question his pedalling and his rubatos), and he’s keenly alert to the essentially operatic cast of Mozart’s mind (the spirit of dialogue is ever-present but with no excess of characterisation). This set can be as warmly recommended as any comparable cycle in the catalogue. Jeremy Siepmann