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Piano Sonatas Volume 4.

Sonata in A, K.331, Sonata in D, K.576,
Sonata in C, K.309, Sonata in B flat, K.281.
Jeno Jando (piano)
Naxos 8.550448 (DDD) (74.14)


Here are some very good performances of Mozart and at £4.99 it is a bargain.

Jeno Jando is not a Peter Katin whose performances on Olympia are still the best but I do not think that they are available now.

I do not propose to analyse all four sonatas for the comments about the first two will, and do apply to the other two.

The playing is very clear and bright with a good recorded sound. The performances include all the repeats save the reprise of the minuets which is standard practise. The performances are very much alive and do not fall into affectation so common with music that emerges from the baroque to the classical.

The A major Sonata, with the famous Turkish rondo finale, is very well played. Right from the beginning we have an excellent judgement of tempo and the music is grazioso. The phrasing is a delight and the pianist observes every variation of tone. He follows Mozart's instructions to the letter and from then on I knew we were to have a great performance. I-us grace notes and sforzandos are magnificently judged. All the requested accents are there, every crescendo and diminuendo as well. The semiquavers octaves in variation one are controlled but stirring. I loved it.

The second half of the first variation had one minor disappointment namely an unauthorised rallentando in bar 30 which I cannot see the sense of at all. The second variation is wonderfully caught with infectious humour in the grace notes of the bass line. Variation three is in the minor key and has always reminded me of one of the variations Beethoven wrote on God save the King. The double octaves are crystal clear and like a sparkling sea.. .simply exquisite. There is another unfortunate rallentando in bar 66. The fourth variation is sublime Mozart. The sensual beauty of the thirds played by the left hand crossing the right is very special. The next variation is marked adagio and is a little too slow. And yet it is because the pianist is putting so much thought and consideration into the piece. I felt a little more drama and contrast was wanted. But look at how he observes all of Mozart's instructions. His 'leaning notes' are very effective. Again there is another unfortunate rallentando. The final allegro is very exciting and very well brought off. The humour is caught as well as the thrills. I did not realise that scales and broken chords played at speed and forte could be so exciting. The perfect cadences are devoid of being just a classical device.

The Minuet is a let down. It is not Mozart at his best but the trio is good from double octaves, in which the staccato is observed, to tripping humour. The famous finale has exactly the right tempo and the broken chords of grace notes have a welcome dryness that adds to the humour. At times the music buzzes and fizzes along with great panache. And , Jando avoids making the music cheap as one often associates it with the accompaniment to some silent cinema scene.

Really enjoyable.

The D major Sonata is one of Mozart's finest. What I like about this performance is that the opening movement can so easily stop and start but not in this special performance. The fingerwork is sometimes dazzling without being ostentatious a mark of a fine pianist. The tempo does not flag and the observing of detail is really commendable. There are many great names who don't do this. There is a difficult passage from bar 109, which only experienced pianists will know about, which I become nervous about when I approach it and I wondered how Jando would cope. I should not have worried.. Again, I felt that the adagio was a shade too slow but I did enjoy how Jando avoids accenting Mozart's vamping passages (for example, bar 17ff.). Schubert, a much lesser composer, overdid his vamping in his sonatas. Jando makes it sound musical rather than mechanic... The music does meander a little but that is Mozart's fault. The humour of the finale is well caught and for those who like to be detectives doesn't the second theme remind you of a finale of a Beethoven sonata. The fingerwork is very secure and the rattling bass line a real thrill.. How well Jando makes boring arpeggios sound.

The C major Sonata is excellent in the outer movements. I felt the slow movement to be a little too quick because I have always thought that this was a portrait of Rosa Cannabich that I suspect Mozart fancied at one time. I play it slower and the beauty inherent in the music comes through more successfully.

Incidentally the sleeve note says that K.281 is in B major. Dear, oh dear!

This is a rewarding disc and a bargain . For grade 7 and 8 students having to learn these pieces it is an excellent example to emulate.

David Wright




David Wright



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