Mozart and Moszkowski CD reviews


MOZART PIANO SONATAS VOL.3: Donohoe (Somm Recordings SOMMCD 0613) ★★★★★

The third volume of Peter Donohoe's Mozart piano cycle is as stimulating, provoking and sheerly enjoyable as its predecessors. Charm, elegance and poetry are not lacking in Donohoe's playing but they are not prioritized in the way they are in the sonata cycles of Pires (DG) and Uchida (Philips). Donohoe is quicker than them in every movement and not just by omitting repeats. Pugnacious, witty and sparkling, this Mozart is a young man in a hurry. In the Adagio in B minor K.540, Donohoe does not downplay the piece's proto-Romanticism but it's more austere and trenchant than Uchida's, which dreamily anticipates Schubert. Donohoe's preference for a Bechstein, lighter than Uchida's Steinway, contributes to his approach. The disc is programmed as a very satisfying recital, starting with K.330 in C Major and concluding with a fizzing account of K.331 with its famous Alla Turca finale. Excellent sound and informative booklet notes.

Norman Stinchcombe

MOSZKOWSKI PIANO WORKS: Etsuko Hirose (Danacord DACOCD 866) ★★★★★

Moritz Moszkowski (1854-1925) was a piano virtuoso in an era of keyboard wizards. He wowed audiences, but bad health and misguided financial dealings left him a broken man. His works are seldom heard now but this dazzlingly-played disc from Etsuko Hirose makes one wish for a revival. What encores they'd make – for a player with the necessary technique and panache. Hirose has both and the fourteen items she has chosen make a judiciously assembled 72 minutes. Moszkowski could charm us; with a lilting Leibeswalzer and the Valse which opens the disc; amuse, as in Die Jongleurin despatched insouciantly by Hirose; vividly paint a scene as in Automne; and soothe with the lapping water of Offenbach's Barcarole, in his own transcription. His tremendous transcription of Isolde's Liebestod matches Liszt's and Hirose ends in a blaze of scintillating colour with the Chanson bohème from Carmen where Moszkowski equals Sarasate's acclaimed violin version.

Norman Stinchcombe

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