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Mozart’s Piano Sonatas, Vol. 5 – an ‘enthralling’ performance by William Youn

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Piano Sonatas, Vol. 5: Nos 6, 7 & 14; Fantasia in C minor
William Youn (piano)
Oehms Classics OC 1857


An irresistible account of the Sonata in D, K284 opens this exceptionally engaging and warmly recorded Mozart recital. Korean pianist William Youn, performing on a modern instrument, brings a sparkling array of colours to the quasi-orchestral textures of the opening Allegro, brilliant flourishes in the treble balanced by a firm and sonorous foundation in the bass. The rest of the work is equally enthralling – a charming and elegant Rondeau en Polonaise followed by an extended Finale where Youn works hard to maximise contrast and character in each of the 12 variations. In comparison to K284, the Sonata in C, K309 is a much less extrovert work. Youn perfectly encapsulates its charming mixture of playfulness and humour in the outer movements, and produces some wonderfully expressive cantabile playing in the central Andante un poco adagio.

With the C minor Fantasy, K475 and Sonata in C minor, K457, we move into rather different musical territory. Both works may appear powerful precursors of Beethoven’s Sturm und Drang style, yet Youn steadfastly resists the temptation to over-dramatise the musical argument with heavy articulation and over-use of the sustaining pedal. At the same time, there are moments in the Fantasy where Youn could perhaps have allowed himself to be a bit more spontaneous in responding to the improvisatory nature of Mozart’s invention. However, I have no such qualms about the performance of the Sonata. The outer movements are delivered with energy and passion, and there’s some lovely tender playing in the Adagio. Altogether, a fine conclusion to an impressive complete cycle.

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Erik Levi