Mozart: Violin Sonatas, K 8, 28, 380 & 454; Andante & Fugue in A, K402; Andante & Allegretto in C, K404

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LABELS: Channel
WORKS: Violin Sonatas, K 8, 28, 380 & 454; Andante & Fugue in A, K402; Andante & Allegretto in C, K404
PERFORMER: Rachel Podger (violin), Gary Cooper (fortepiano)
As in previous instalments of their complete Mozart series, Gary Cooper and Rachel Podger intersperse the accepted works of the canon with sonatas the composer composed before his age had reached double figures. The best-known work here is the grand B flat Sonata, K454, written for the young Italian violinist Regina Strinasacchi; but scarcely less beautiful is K380, whose slow movement foreshadows the tragic Andante – also in G minor – from the Piano Concerto K456, while its ‘hunting’ finale might easily have stepped out of another of the great concertos.


Cooper and Podger provide some spirited playing (perhaps too much so in the finale of the little K28 sonata, where it’s possible to imagine a gentler and more gracious interpretation), with repeats imaginatively decorated, and they are admirably expressive in the slow movements. It’s a pity, though, that the recorded balance is so heavily weighted in favour of the violin, making some of its accompaniments sound more prominent than the piano’s themes. Preferable from this point of view, and very rewarding musically, are the 1970s recordings by Radu Lupu and Szymon Goldberg. It’s true that Goldberg was past his prime (his earlier versions with Lili Kraus, once available on Music & Arts, are worth seeking out), but there’s something touching about his frailty – and for once the finale of K454 is treated as a genuine Allegretto. However, if you want this music played on period instruments there’s certainly much enjoyment to be had from this new recording.


Misha Donat