Scott Noriega, Fanfare magazine
For much of the 19th and even 20th centuries the piano sonata as a genre belonged to Beethoven. But he did not own the genre and he wrote fewer examples in it than many other composers—not just his own part-time teacher Haydn (who wrote over 60 of them) but even his contemporaries Clementi and Dussek: the former wrote over 100, the latter around 35. But it was Beethoven who made the greatest impact on future generations with his 32 examples. But who inspired Beethoven in the creation of his own masterpieces? Certainly, the three aforementioned composers, but also Mozart, the master magician of tone color, of variety in music, and of the synthesis of any number of different influences into a cohesive and engaging whole. Remember it was Mozart whom Beethoven originally moved to Vienna to study with. In his own six last sonatas Mozart proved to be the equal of any composer, even Beethoven, even if his works for piano have not always been as popular or influential on later generations.
The current recital features Mozart’s greatest sonatas, the last and most fully developed works he wrote for the instrument: from the child-like C-Major Sonata “facile,” known to virtually every intermediate piano student, to the powerful and tragic C-minor Sonata with its accompanying fantasia (a work which has been described as “Beethovenian” by some), to his very last and joyous Sonata in D Major, one filled with any number of treacherous difficulties, perhaps especially its contrapuntal trappings. Roberto Prosseda here masters all of the intricacies of this music with aplomb, making the music sound not just easy but natural. In his hands virtually every repeat is tastefully ornamented, bringing new life and new interest to this music. And that was not his only intriguing idea in recording this music. The idea of unequally tuning his gorgeous-sounding Fazioli grand only adds to the harmonic richness one finds in this music, perhaps especially the further one gets from C Major: I found certain of the passing dissonances especially enhanced in the E♭-Major Adagio in the C-Minor Sonata, a movement which is particularly enchanting with its numerous roulades and its beautiful lyricism. Equally captivating is Prosseda’s approach in the rondo finale in the F-Major Sonata; never has the movement reminded one of a charming music box as much is does here—and that in a good way, never overly sentimental, but always evocative.
If one is looking for a new and exciting recording of Mozart, one based on not only the most recent musical scholarship, but one which also delivers it with the most musical impact, then one should look no further than Prosseda’s final entry into his complete Mozart sonatas. I was so enthralled listening to these pieces that I searched out his first two entries (featuring the first 12 sonatas) and look forward to enjoying them soon. In his hands there is no doubt that Mozart at his best was as great a pianistic composer as any. If the performer’s job is to bring out the best in the music which they perform, then Prosseda can say he has done his job to a tee. Grab this disc and enjoy it!
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