Mozart: Piano Sonatas, K 330, 331 & 332; Fantasias, K 385g & 475; Rondo in D, K 485; Rondo in A minor, K 511; Nine Variations on a Minuet by Duport; Adagio in B minor, K 540

COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: EMI
ALBUM TITLE: Mozart
WORKS: Piano Sonatas, K 330, 331 & 332; Fantasias, K 385g & 475; Rondo in D, K 485; Rondo in A minor, K 511; Nine Variations on a Minuet by Duport; Adagio in B minor, K 540
PERFORMER: Lars Vogt (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: EMI 336 0802
The first in Lars Vogt’s pair of discs contains a group of three sonatas composed around 1783 (the most famous of them is K331, with its ‘Turkish Rondo’ finale), while the second presents some of the most profound among Mozart’s shorter piano pieces. In his booklet notes, Vogt claims to have been influenced by period-instrument performances, and in particular their sparing use of vibrato. You can hear what he means in his deliberately ‘pale’ account of the tragic Adagio, K540. A more heart-on-sleeve approach is offered by Brendel or Uchida (both on Philips), but Vogt is nevertheless convincing in his own right. In the opening left-hand bars of the D minor Fantasia, K385, he imaginatively evokes the sound of tolling bells, while his performance of the beautiful Rondo in A minor is expressive without so much as a hint of self-indulgence. Less successful is Vogt’s view of the Variations on a minuet by the cellist Jean-Pierre Duport: several of the variations are so slow that the music loses momentum – it’s too portentous

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for its essential innocence.

In the sonatas Vogt finds an admirable range of colours, though his liking for extremes of dynamic contrast can be disconcerting. The finale of K330 is rather lacking in sparkle – though the same can’t be said of K331’s ‘Alla Turca’, which Vogt plays more as a presto than the jaunty ‘allegretto’ of Mozart’s marking. While there’s much to enjoy in these very well played performances, safer recommendations would be either Uchida, or – better still – the more mercurial Maria João Pires.

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Misha Donat