MOZART: Piano Sonata in B-flat Major, K. 281; Piano Sonata in E-flat Major, K. 282; Piano Sonata in D Major, K. 576; Fantasia in C Minor, K. 396 – Alfred Brendel, piano – Philips

by | Nov 21, 2005 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

MOZART: Piano Sonata in B-flat Major, K. 281; Piano Sonata in
E-flat Major, K. 282; Piano Sonata in D Major, K. 576; Fantasia in C
Minor, K. 396
– Alfred Brendel, piano – Philips Multichannel SACD 475 6199  55:13 (Distrib. Universal) ****:

Mozart’s early piano sonatas, composed 1774-1775, are likely touring
pieces the composer used for concerts he gave in Munich, Augsburg, and
Paris. The writing is a combination of brilliant, virtuoso runs and
ornaments–in which the trill is already an organic element in the
melodic contour–and arioso, florid writing which balances operatic
figures with dance forms. The G Minor episode in the finale of the
B-flat Sonata hints at the kinds of deep pathos the later Mozart would
communicate in symphony and religious works. The E-flat Sonata utilizes
a curious format of Adagio-Menuetto-Allegro that Mozart would again
employ in the A Major Sonata, K. 331 with its Turkish Rondo. This piece
has more empfindsamkeit debts than does the B-flat, and the rolling
arpeggios of the first movement may well have influenced Beethoven’s
Op. 27, No. 2. The D Major Sonata (1789) is Mozart’s last in the form –
a combination of direct, lyrical outpouring and learned two-part
counterpoint.  The first movement bears the appellation “The Hunt”
because of its horn-call effects. The second movement wanders into F#
Minor/Major, the key of the second movement of the A Major Concerto, K.
488. The 1782 Fantasia is a piece whose genesis is a mystery, perhaps a
truncated sketch for a passionate violin sonata. Maximilian Stadler
claimed to have completed the piece from Mozart’s notes. Alfred Brendel
has reinstated Mozart’s own text for the opening and the
recapitulation, effectively adding symmetry and closure to this
chromatic, deeply introspective piece.

Alfred Brendel renders these works with brittle, crystalline clarity,
and the articulation of ornaments and grace notes is the soul of suave
stateliness. The second subject in the E-flat Sonata Adagio elicits a
musicbox sonority. Even given the relative brevity of the disc, the
intensity of the playing and the wide-ranging emotional canvas of the
pieces dictate savoring this disc in selective parts rather than taken
in one gulp. Brendel plays Mozart as Schnabel played Beethoven, with
the ethos that only more of the same composer’s works make fitting
encores. After the pearly play of the opening three sonatas, the C
Minor Fantasia plunges us in to the wine-dark seas of epic tragedy,
touched by the procedures of Bach and Handel, heady going. The surround
sound makes for a rich and full piano experience.

–Gary Lemco 

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