Piano Sonatas, Vol. 3 – Piano Sonata No. 10 in C major, K330; Gigue in G major, K574; Piano Sonata No. 18 in D major, K576 ‘Hunt’; Adagio in B minor, K450; Piano Sonata No. 11 in A major, K331 ‘Alla Turca’
Peter Donohoe (piano)
SOMM Recordings SOMMCD0613 64:38 mins
Mozart’s claim that his D major Sonata K576 was an ‘easy teaching’ piece intended for the relatively limited capabilities of Princess Friederike of Prussia is hard to take seriously. The composer’s final contribution to the genre turned out to be one of the most technically challenging of all his solo piano works featuring lots of intricately exposed contrapuntal writing that can tax even the most seasoned virtuoso. Needless to say, Peter Donohoe delivers all this knotty passagework with tremendous clarity, but never compromises the essentially energetic and exuberant nature of the outer movements, as well as its moments of tenderness and intimacy in central Adagio.
K576 stands at the centre of this enormously satisfying third volume of Donohoe’s Mozart cycle. It is flanked by two other late works of strikingly contrasting character: an exhilarating almost skittish Gigue, which Tchaikovsky subsequently transcribed for orchestra as the first movement of his Fourth Suite; and the profoundly moving Adagio in B minor which some scholars suggest may have been composed as a private tribute to the memory of his late father. Donohoe invests this music with a real sense of pathos and world-weariness, extracting a wealth of startling colours and varied dynamics from his Bechstein piano.
A similar delight in exploiting a variety of pianistic textures and moods characterises his mellifluously expressive account of the opening variations movement in the A major K331 Sonata. The famous ‘Rondo Alla Turca’, which rounds off this warmly-recorded disc, is played in a relatively straightforward manner, but Donohoe also succeeds in bringing the necessary quasi-orchestral heft to the louder passages without artificially inflating his graceful pianistic touch.