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Mozart piano sonatas

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Showing 1-18 of 18 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 21, 2012 6:39:36 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 21, 2012 6:41:49 AM PST
Mandryka says:
For me, I like Mozart played with some tension, and I don't hear enough of that when Arrau plays these variations. It's relentlessly sunny until the minor key variation, and then relentlessly sunny again until the cantabile variation (which he plays very nicely.) I don't hear "shades of sunshine" like you do. Neither do I hear responsiveness -- it's not helped by the fact that on my records there's a brief but noticable pause between each variation.

One I prefer (though this isn't a piece of music I love) is Ranki -- try it Charles, let me know what you think:

You have to put a suffix .flac onto the filename. That dodges mediafire's police.

Ranki is more tense, faster and formally more satisfying -- he doesn't slow down for the minor key variation at all, and it acts like a sort of turn in the music. There's a stronger sense of the variations responding to each other. There's a real sweep which I don't hear in Arrau.

I quite like Gould too when he plays this music -- why shouldn't comedy be part of what Mozart was about here?

Posted on Dec 21, 2012 6:36:15 AM PST
John Spinks says:
Did someone mention Schiff's set? I like it as much as Uchida's. I also once had the early Pires Denon set. What led me to trade that away, I don't know. Temporary insanity? Oh well, it's now available from Brilliant at a reasonable price.

Posted on Dec 21, 2012 5:12:08 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 21, 2012 5:18:37 AM PST
I personally think the Mozart Sonatas are under-rated a bit. There is a lot of variety of modest proportions in there. For example, having K282 start as a slow movement, K331 with a variation movement, the operatic overture to K311 or K284's opening movements, the counterpoint in K576 or K533 (where I think Horszowski is terrific), the contrasts and drama in K332, the cadenza in the Finale of K333 or that sonata's quintessential Mozart lyricism etc.

And K284's Finale is intriguing for me, Mandryka. Its Theme and 12 Variations make it the longest single movement in a Mozart Piano Sonata (the next lengthiest is also a Variation movement - the 1st mvmt of K331 in A). I like to hear the theme played in a true "cantabile" manner and underlying the elaborations that ornament all succeeding variations. This goes for those variations (3 and 4 for example) which call for considerable virtuosity. That doesn't mean crass underlying but by awareness of the underlying harmonic shaping/structure of the theme throughout where the variations are played as a natural response to one other. There are interesting various musical devices here such as the call and response of variation 2 where the motive converses in different registers or the dexterity of No.3 which should soar without losing the beauty of the left hand's melody - you still want all the necessary shades of "sunshine" that are inherent in this theme. Var.11 the heart of the piece. This bel canto aria for piano is difficult to "sing" because of straight quarter-note rhythms in a slow tempo where the inner beauty is depicted in its simplicity, major-minor inflections, decorative trills and chromatic runs. Remember too, Mozart loved the voice. From his Scarlatti and Mozart recordings, Horowitz would have been in his element here - his instinctive shaping and understanding of pedaling and overtones, produced the most aptly beautiful cantabiles (eg. the slow mvmt of K281).

Like any big tonal variation set (eg. Goldberg Variations), I would like this 15 minutes of D major to be expressed not with all the same kind exuberance but with a balanced contrast of the lyrical, dramatic and formal elements. This is what makes Mozart and the purest Classical Era music so challenging. In light of this, I personally think that Arrau does very well here - his choices of tempo and expression are very apt but he is still very much, "in the moment".

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 21, 2012 4:28:13 AM PST
George says:
I only have two of her Mozart works, the ones included in the Brilliant box. I only heard them once and don't recall anything about the performances. I will listen again.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 21, 2012 12:34:26 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 21, 2012 12:52:00 AM PST
Mandryka says:
What do you think of Yudina's Mozart George? K310 and K331 especially.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 21, 2012 12:18:34 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 21, 2012 4:52:04 AM PST
Mandryka says:
Arrau doesn't do it for me Charles. I'm not sure anyone does.

You like big tough variation sets, don't you. You should try Buxtehude's La Capricciosa. I wonder if it's playable on a single keyboard. Lars Ulrich Mortensen was the one who made sense of it for me.

I'm not a great fan of Mozart piano sonatas, except for three or four of them. Haydn left a much more interesting legacy of solo keyboard music.

By the way, as far as I can see, there's no good reason to play k475 as a prelude to k457. That was the question I posed when I bumped this thread, but there were no takers.

Posted on Dec 20, 2012 5:04:55 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 20, 2012 8:45:48 PM PST
On DVD Barenboim Playing the Complete Mozart Piano Sonatas is well attuned to the operatic, dramatic sides of the sonatas as well as their lyrical content.

Claudio Arrau's Mozart Complete Piano Sonatas have many surprises. His account of the formidable variation movement in K284 is very impressive - great balance of lyricism, intensity and expressive articulation.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 20, 2012 5:04:42 PM PST
Yi-Peng says:
I am exceedingly happy with the Pires DG box and Uchida. Uchida may not include second half repeats but both these pianists are very very good.

Posted on Dec 20, 2012 8:49:41 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 20, 2012 8:53:24 AM PST
I completely agree with Rasmus concerning his preference for Pires' earlier Denon set over her later DG set. It's a terrific set. Interestingly, when the DG set came out most critics thought it was superior to the Denon set (& that the DG offered better sound, which is probably true in regards to the initial Denon releases, but not to the actual recordings--as I own the remastered Japanese Denon set & it sounds great), but over the years I've come to prefer Pires' playing on the earlier set. Her Denon interpretations seem less weighed down and serious, & as a result her fingers seem freer, more youthful--& her playing comes off as more spontaneous & imaginative.

I've also liked Alicia de Larrocha on Decca: Alicia de Larrocha 2 - Great Pianists of the Century & RCA: Mozart: Piano Sonatas, Vol 5, Ingrid Haebler's Denon set, early Brendel, Dubravka Tomsic: Mozart: Piano Sonatas In E-flat, K 282 And C, K 457; Fantasia In C, K 575, Krystian Zimerman (never released on CD), and American pianist Elizabeth Rich, whose Mozart is unique & insightful, though may not be for everyone. Among pianists of an older generation, Miecyslaw Horszowski's Arbiter label set is a top choice IMO.

On a period instrument, Malcolm Bilson has it all--understanding of style, passion, clarity, delicacy, & humanity: Mozart: Piano Sonatas, Complete [Box Set]. I've also liked Ronald Brautigam in all the Piano Variations: Mozart: Complete Piano Variations. Jos van Immerseel is good too in his survey of works from Mozart's Vienna years: Vienna Years 1782-1789: Sonatas Fantasies Rondos . I've yet to hear any of the issues from Kristian Bezuidenhout's recently completed Harmonia Mundi survey.

Posted on Dec 20, 2012 7:59:48 AM PST
George says:
I have sets by Klien, Uchida, Geiseking and three Kraus sets (EMI, SONY and M&A.) They all have things about them I that I enjoy, but Kraus is my favorite. The three sets are very similar, the SONY having by far the best sound.

Posted on Dec 20, 2012 6:50:31 AM PST
scarecrow says:
Yes Maria Joao Pires, great Mozart musician, reader, , ,also love her Chopin. . .

Posted on Dec 19, 2012 3:13:59 PM PST
The reviews for the set Ken mentioned in his OP are very good here on amazon.

Among the ones I have Eschenbach and the Denon/Brilliant Pires are my favorites. I find Pires's DG remake a bit self-indulgent in comparison with her earlier recoding.

Posted on Dec 19, 2012 2:39:18 PM PST
i have the piazzini set, as well as uchida and klien. i like uchida the best, but the piazzini is good, especially for the price. for someone without a complete set, it's definitely a great place to start.

Posted on Dec 19, 2012 1:50:27 PM PST
scarecrow says:
Well cheap I don't know--- but can't beat;
K. Zimerman, M.Uschida,I love to hear Yulianna Avdeev, winner of 2010 Chopin Comp.. . .

Posted on Dec 19, 2012 1:35:21 PM PST
Mandryka says:
I've been listening to Elisso Virsaladze play K 475/K 457. I was struck by how naturally she handled the transition from the fantasie to the sonata.

What do you think of this pairing? How did it originate?

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 26, 2011 6:21:27 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 26, 2011 6:24:08 PM PDT
KenOC says:
"I dunno, most of us already own a set or two of these."

So when did that stop us? ;-)

Thanks for the review link. Looks pretty good.

Posted on Mar 26, 2011 6:18:58 PM PDT
DavidRFoss says:
Here's Jed Distler's Review:

I dunno, most of us already own a set or two of these.

Initial post: Mar 26, 2011 5:20:11 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 26, 2011 6:09:50 PM PDT
KenOC says:
Some time ago somebody was asking about complete sets of Mozart sonatas. I just noticed this one, download only but VERY cheap at $6.99: Mozart: The Complete Piano Sonatas

Looks like it might be a good performance. Maybe somebody can spring for the big bucks and report back.
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Discussion in:  Classical Music forum
Participants:  11
Total posts:  18
Initial post:  Mar 26, 2011
Latest post:  Dec 21, 2012

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