Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

LABELS: Wigmore Hall Live
WORKS: Piano Sonatas Nos 6, 12, 14 & 16; Fantasia in C minor, K475
PERFORMER: Christian Blackshaw (piano) Wigmore Hall Live WHLive 0076/2


Christian Blackshaw’s third volume of Mozart sonatas demonstrates anew the refinement of execution and mastery of style and content that has gained previous instalments of this Wigmore Hall Live cycle high praise. One senses an authentic Mozartian in action from the opening of the Sonata in D major, K284, the first item on the first CD. Throughout, but above all in the richly elaborated set of variations that forms the third movement, there is created in the listener a sense of unlimited trust in the pianist’s interpretative authority – whether in his instinct for relating of tempo choice to shaping of phrases and grading of dynamics, or in his always acutely sensitive, never showy placing of detail.

Here, and likewise in the superficially light-spirited Sonata No. 12 in F, K332, he has one listening to this much-played, much-recorded music with refreshed ears. The two mature C minor masterpieces on CD 2 – the dark-spirited Fantasia, K475, and the disturbingly dramatic Sonata No. 14, K457 – make an even stronger impact, combining near-contradictory qualities, simplicity and sophistication, searching concentration and relaxed ease of unfolding, in a manner that so many top performers exploring this repertory simply fail to discover, let alone realise.


It’s worth recalling that Clifford Curzon, greatest of British pianists, was Blackshaw’s most significant mentor; and that for all their individual differences, which become clear when one listens to Curzon’s somewhat more mercurial, tonally multifaceted live K457 (1974, from Salzburg, on Orfeo) side by side with Blackshaw’s, the very act of comparison helps confirm the latter as one of today’s most completely accomplished keyboard Mozartians. Max Loppert