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LABELS: Wigmore Hall Live
WORKS: Piano Sonatas Nos 3, 5, 6, 10 & 13
PERFORMER: Christian Blackshaw (piano)


There’s much to savour in the second volume of Christian Blackshaw’s Mozart sonata cycle. He identifies completely with each work, drawing out the emotional characteristics of individual movements without unwarranted mannerism. As before, Blackshaw works within a deliberately limited dynamic range, but nonetheless exerts a subtle control of timbre and voicing and delights in projecting the sheer inventiveness of Mozart’s musical material. Among the most insightful moments are the witty nuances in the finale of the B flat Sonata No. 4, the unexpectedly dark resonances in the Andante cantabile in No. 10 in C, and the mysterious harmonies in the slow movement in the B flat No. 13.

The E flat Sonata No. 4 is a particular tour de force. Although Blackshaw takes the opening Adagio at a very slow tempo while at the same time faithfully observing both repeats, such is the magical intimacy of the playing that there is never any danger of the long melodic lines falling apart. In contrast, the Minuet is both assertive and elegant and it is followed by an Allegro that bristles with joy and exhilaration.

Occasionally I wondered whether some of the slow movements were too deliberate. And the virtuoso flourishes that punctuate the Finale of the B flat No. 13 could perhaps be even more demonstrative. But these are minor caveats given the engaging nature as a whole.


Erik Levi