Mozart: Sonata in B, K358; Andante & Variations in D, k501; Sonata in F, K497; Fugue in G minor, K401; Orgelstück für eine Uhr in F minor, K608

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COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: Sony
ALBUM TITLE: Mozart
WORKS: Sonata in B, K358; Andante & Variations in D, k501; Sonata in F, K497; Fugue in G minor, K401; Orgelstück für eine Uhr in F minor, K608
PERFORMER: Yaara Tal, Andreas Groethuysen ((piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 8287 67363 2
As a composer of music for two

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pianists at a single keyboard Mozart

stands second only to Schubert,

whose duets have already very

successfully been recorded by Yaara

Tal and Andreas Groethuysen. The

first volume of their complete Mozart

series features two great works that

exemplify very different approaches

to the medium: on the one hand, the

intimate, chamber-like Andante and

Variations, K501; and on the other

the symphonically-conceived Sonata

in F major, K497 – the grandest, and

perhaps the greatest, of all Mozart’s

keyboard works. The same CD

also includes the imposing F minor

Fantasia, K608, composed for a

mechanical organ, and surely the

model behind Schubert’s well-known

four-hands Fantasia in the same key.

Volume 2 branches out into

repertoire for two pianos, including

the irrepressibly effervescent D major

Sonata, K448, and the austere

Fugue in C minor, K426. Mozart

subsequently rescored the fugue for

strings, prefacing it with a new slow

introduction in Handelian style.

Tal and Groethuysen include the

introduction, in an arrangement by

Franz Beyer that works remarkably

well. Beyer has also completed some

fragmentary pieces, among them a

Larghetto and Allegro for two pianos

that only resurfaced in the 1960s.

Beyer’s version is far preferable

to the completion made shortly

after Mozart’s death by his friend

Maximilian Stadler, which relies too

much on sequential patterns.

Tal and Groethuysen are a

long-established duo, and there’s

some admirably polished playing

here. Particularly enjoyable are the

sparkling early Sonata K358 and

the Sonata for Two Pianos, though

the latter is marred by a mannerism

of elongating pauses at the end

of musical paragraphs. There are

more rhythmic eccentricities in the theme of the Variations K501, and

one may feel that the performance

of the F major Sonata doesn’t quite

plumb its depths. True, the opening

movement is a two-to-the-bar Allegro

di molto, but it needs more weight

than Tal and Groethuysen’s hectic

pace allows. However, these works

have been sadly neglected, and with

Peter Frankl and Tamás Vásáry’s

eloquent ASV recordings currently

unavailable, this newcomer more or

less has the field to itself. Certainly, it

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has much to offer. Misha Donat