Mozart: Piano Works

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COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: RSI
ALBUM TITLE: Mozart: Piano Works
WORKS: Fantasy in D minor, K397; Sonata No. 6 in D, K284; Rondo in D, K485; Rondo in A minor, K511; Sonata No. 15 in F, K533/K494
PERFORMER: Francesco Piemontesi (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: V 5367

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For any up-and-coming pianist, making an all-Mozart solo CD is a major statement. Francesco Piemontesi rises to the challenge with conviction. With tone ranging from dusky to glittering, always clear and thoroughly articulated, the transparency of his playing reminds us that Mozart is any musician’s ultimate test: it offers nowhere to hide. In this selection of pieces, which date from between 1775 and 1788, he proves himself a Mozartian force to be reckoned with.

He opens with the ubiquitous yet elusive D minor Fantasy, its inward emotions and rapid switches of mood bearing the distinct stamp of CPE Bach’s influence. Here, and in the sonatas and rondos that follow, each section is strongly characterised, with lively contrasts and a touch that is both singing and energetic. The late F major Sonata is the most challenging of the works, with operatic exchanges between voices, whirlpools of arpeggiation in the first movement and the startling descent of the final rondo to an unusual conclusion in the bass register.

Throughout, Piemontesi seems to be on a quest for absolute perfection. Perhaps too little room remains, though, for spontaneity, as if imagination is being kept on almost too tight a rein. That last ingredient – call it joy or freedom – might have made the quest complete.

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Jessica Duchen