Mozart: Piano Sonata in C, K330; Piano Sonata in A, K331; Piano Sonata in F, K332

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COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
ALBUM TITLE: mozart piano sonatas
WORKS: Piano Sonata in C, K330; Piano Sonata in A, K331; Piano Sonata in F, K332
PERFORMER: Andreas Staier (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: HMC 901856
The back cover of this CD includes a health warning. Andreas Staier, it says, plays Mozart with ‘a hefty dose of mischief when it comes to interpretative options’. As it turns out, that only really applies to his irreverent send-up of the ‘Alla turca’ from the Sonata, K331. In his otherwise well-argued note on the whole question of embellishment in Mozart, Staier says he plays the famous finale in an attempt to imagine how the composer would have reacted to its omnipresence in the hotel lobbies and check-in queues of today. It’s hardly Mozart’s profoundest piece, so no great harm done; but Staier’s is a curious viewpoint coming from a historically aware performer of his calibre. Elsewhere his ornamentation is comparatively discreet, and certainly a good deal less flamboyant than what must be Mozart’s own in the Adagio of K332, where the recapitulation in the first edition is elaborately decorated in comparison with the same passage as found in the manuscript score.

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Staier’s performances are lively and strongly characterised, and he makes judicious use throughout of both pedals on the copy of the late 18th-century piano by Mozart’s favourite maker, Anton Walter. But for eloquence and lightness of touch Maria Jõao Pires generally has more to offer; and in the ‘Alla turca’ her graceful and unusually slow account sheds fresh light on the piece without going overboard. Misha Donat