MOZART: Piano Sonata in A Major, K. 331; Piano Sonata in B-flat Major, K. 333; Piano Sonata in C Minor, K. 457; Fantasia in C Minor, K. 475 – Robert Hamilton, piano – Summit Records

by | Oct 27, 2006 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

MOZART: Piano Sonata in A Major, K. 331; Piano Sonata in B-flat Major, K. 333; Piano Sonata in C Minor, K. 457; Fantasia in C Minor, K. 475 – Robert Hamilton, piano – Summit Records DCD 451, 78:25 ****:

A pupil of Sidney Foster and Dora Zaslavsky, Robert Hamilton boasts a natural pedigree in his music of choice, bolstered by studies with Vladimir Horowitz. Hamilton makes a solid, intelligent Mozartean, plastic and sensitive at once. His articulation of the theme and variations in the A Major,. K. 331 Sonata proves deliberate and architectural, the sound engineering from Mark Fuksman maintaining a sterling sonority from the Hamburg Steinway D recorded at Bard College, 5-6 January 2006. Hamilton projects a lovely tone in the course of Mozart’s shifts of registration; only a poetic nuance or two separate his easy grace from the transcendent art of Solomon in this piece. The Menuetto proceeds with quirky, music-box filigree, a steady pulse under girding its dogged gait. The Rondo Alla Turca dances with restrained dignity, intimately charming.

Hamilton maintains a light touch for the Allegro of the B-flat Sonata, K. 333. The forward momentum has a clean, well-wrought shape, a nice alteration between legato and running, rocket passages. Hamilton sports a delicate mezzo-piano dynamic. A definite sense of having moved to the development ensues, the tissue having become harmonically interested and even more vocal in character. We marvel how Mozart manages to keep so many splendid impulses up in the air at once. The Andante cantabile in this version points to Beethoven – a wistful, poignant affect. The Allegretto grazioso enjoys a rococo sensibility, elegant and pertly self-confident. The last pages play out as a miniature concerto, cadenza and ritornelli, crystalline and playful.

The world becomes radically different in the C Minor Fantasia, more darkly expressive, more polyphonically threatening. Does anyone recall that Lillian Gish played this piece to fight the Indians in John Huston’s The Unforgiven? The Alberti bass which accompanies the vocal theme seems otherworldy, infinitely longing. The resonance of the Hamburg Steinway thickens, explodes for the faster sections, the appoggiaturas pinging with percussive force. Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy and Appassionata filigree are at hand. The C Minor Sonata receives a bravura performance, fast and furious. The exposed plaint of the Adagio, its uncanny harmonic ventures, reveals Hamilton’s superior artistry. More four-beat prescience of the Appassionata. The Allegro assai easily extends to the Beethoven tradition with its sforzati and often breathless pace. This is Mozart’s fate knocking at the door. 

— Gary Lemco

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