Mozart: Piano Sonatas and Fantasias

COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: Sony
WORKS: Piano Sonatas and Fantasias
PERFORMER: Glenn Gould (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: SM4K 52627 ADD
The inimitable and incomparable Glenn Gould is revealed in these five sets in all his glory, idiosyncrasy and downright crankiness. He is full of surprises: just when his obsessively careful and mannered articulations start to irritate, you can be presented in the next piece with a performance of such freshness and persuasiveness that all is instandy forgotten and forgiven.

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This is particularly clear in the Mozart sonatas, which range from a draggingly mannered A major, K331, to the sparkling, lively conversations of the earlier K279 and 280. The contrast is also evident in the solo Bach: the English Suites are powerful and masterly while the smaller-scale French Suites can seem overwhelmed by detail (I prefer the simpler approach of Andras Schiff on Decca). In the sonatas, Laredo and Rose make excellent partners for him – astonishingly, the different styles of string players (singing and Romantic) and pianist (lively and tending to fussiness) do not conflict but complement one another very well, for the most part.

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As for the Schoenberg, this is highly recommended, even to the Schoenberg-shy. Gould is clearly in total sympathy with the composer and provides performances of solo, orchestral and chamber works alike which communicate very strongly. I particularly enjoyed the superb Piano Concerto; a previously unreleased recording of Gould conducting part of Pierrot lunaire adds rarity value. Jessica Duchen