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