ALBUM TITLE: Mozart piano sonatas
WORKS: Piano Sonatas, K 281, 282 & 576; Fantasia in C minor, K 396
PERFORMER: Alfred Brendel (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 475 6199 (hybrid CD/SACD)
The latest in Alfred Brendel’s series of Mozart sonata recordings close-focuses on the first group of six sonatas composed by the 19-year-old Mozart. And the distinctive Brendel hallmarks are there from the start. The K281 Sonata’s opening trilling is both brilliant and purposeful, answered by a demurely playful phrase that is every bit as much Brendel as Mozart. As past master of Mozart’s language, Brendel imparts a sense of rhetoric and nobility to its expression by playing with a sense of subtle and flexible rubato with which to set and shape each phrase. The slow movement is in a finely ornamented vein of rococo pathos, with eloquent song at its heart.
This sense of the singing voice shapes the opening slow movement of the K282 Sonata. To some listeners this will add to its eloquence; others, I suspect, might detect more of mannerism than of manner here. Every phrase is subject to the microscope of Brendel’s mind in the meticulously shaped pair of Minuets. And this very audible sense of pre-meditation forges a sturdy opening to the K576 Sonata: the measured pacing of its horncall makes for maximum lucidity later as Mozart’s contrapuntal cunning gets underway.
Mozart’s study of Bach and Handel is palpably present in Brendel’s stark and powerful exploration of the Fantasia in C minor, in which he reinstates Mozart’s original text at the start (rather than Maximilian Stadler’s changes). Superb recorded sound throughout; and if you have the equipment, you can also listen in SACD Surround Sound. Hilary Finch