Mozart: Six Violin Sonatas, Op. 1

COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: Canary Classics
ALBUM TITLE: Mozart
WORKS: Six Violin Sonatas, Op. 1
PERFORMER: Gil Shaham (vln), Orli Shaham (pno)
CATALOGUE NO: CC01
The ‘Mozart in Paris’ label, in large letters on both the booklet and the CD itself, is rather misleading: most of these sonatas were actually composed in Mannheim, where Mozart and his mother stayed from September 1777 until March 1778, and only the final pair was added after their arrival in Paris, to form a set of six works. Moreover, of the two last sonatas, the brilliant D major K306 has an opening movement in the Mannheim style, with a reversed recapitulation ending with the delayed reprise of the main subject. This sonata is the grandest of the six, being cast in three movements, rather than two, though it is less memorable than its Parisian companion-piece, K304, in a hauntingly melancholy E minor.

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Gil and Orli Shaham give warm and ardent performances of these pieces, bringing the music vividly to life. They’re particularly successful in K306, with the opening movement’s development section imaginatively shaped, and the finale’s big cadenza played with appropriate freedom. Elsewhere, their interpretations are somewhat over-characterised: the siciliano-like episode in the minor from the finale of K301, for instance, is so different in tone from its surroundings that it sounds as though it belongs to a different piece altogether; while the expressive lingering in the variation theme of K305 belies the music’s essential simplicity. But these are small points, and while this new version doesn’t displace the accounts by Barenboim and Perlman, it can confidently be recommended. Misha Donat