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Mozart: Piano Sonatas, Vol. 6 (Donohoe)

Peter Donohoe (piano) (SOMM Recordings)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

Piano Sonatas, Vol. 6: No. 4 in E flat, K282; No. 14 in C minor, K457; No. 16 in C, K545; Fantasia in C minor
Peter Donohoe (piano)
SOMM Recordings SOMMCD 0660   60:04 mins


The earlier releases in this complete series have been widely acclaimed, and this final instalment shows why. There will be listeners who feel unable to accept Peter Donohoe’s use of a modern Bechstein grand piano in early classical music of this kind – just as there will be those who welcome this instrument’s range of tone compared to what a fortepiano of Mozart’s own time could offer. But surely only a dedicated ideologue would deny that Donohoe has here found a playing style that feels exactly right for the idiom of the music itself.

The deliberately simple manner of the C major Sonata K545 can make it come across as a trite creation; here the poised composure of Donohoe’s approach has it sounding like a small masterpiece. Mozart’s more exploratory style in the E flat Sonata K282 has, in places, a pre-Schubertian lyrical feeling that Donohoe beautifully suggests without exaggerating it (as in the extended Adagio first movement).

The darker world of the C minor Fantasy and Sonata looks ahead to Beethoven’s stormy deployment of the same tonality, a connection conveyed here without tendentiousness. Well, almost: in the final bars of the Sonata K457’s finale, Donohoe takes the bass line down to a deep C, a note which didn’t yet exist on the pianos of Mozart’s time. As a personal touch to sign off the whole series, as well as a stylistic pointer towards a musical age to come, it’s a fair enough tribute to the prescient side of Mozart’s mastery.


Malcolm Hayes