> Mozart Piano Sonatas Vol 1 Mamou ADW7246 [TB]: Classical Reviews- February 2002 MusicWeb-International

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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Piano Sonatas, Volume 1

Sonata in C major, K 279
Sonata in F major, K 280
Sonata in B flat major, K 281
Sonata in E flat major, K 282
Sonata in G major, K 283
Roberte Mamou (piano)
Rec 1991, Ghent

PAVANE ADW 7246 [67.35]


Experience Classicsonline

This disc is a reissue of recordings made ten years ago and fitfully available since that time. Roberte Mamou recorded the complete Mozart piano sonatas on five CDs, and these are now in the catalogue once again. Their return is to be welcomed, since the performances are stylistically sensitive and the recordings generally natural and clear.

Mamou plays a modern instrument rather than a fortepiano, but the insert notes tell us precious little about the circumstances of the recording. The same is true of the music, alas, which describes the background and music of all five sonatas within three short paragraphs. The notes we have are rather good, in fact, offering several useful insights in a fluently written style. There just needs to be more substance than this.

The Tunisian-born pianist Roberte Mamou is based in Europe, and has worked mostly in Belgium. She has just the right manner for this repertoire, always seeming to choose an appropriate tempo and to phrase with care for the musical line and the thematic personality. When these things feel as spontaneous and natural as they do here, the performer can take due credit. For these sonatas have their demands. One of my favourite anecdotes concerns the great Hungarian pianist Andor Foldes, who made his debut playing Mozart at the age of only six. After he was fifty he stopped playing many Mozart pieces on the grounds that they were 'too difficult'.

These sonatas were written in Salzburg in 1774, when Mozart was eighteen. Perhaps he intended to perform them in Munich, when he went there for the premiere of his opera La Finta giardiniera. In their under-stated way these pieces do take the player through his or her paces. All five have a three-movement design, but the approach changes from one piece to the next and any sense of formula is avoided.

The Sonata in C major, K279, the first in the series, is perhaps the least successful of these performances, since the faster outer movements seem somewhat unyielding. The recorded sound exaggerates this tendency, with little atmosphere and a dead acoustic.

Fortunately this is the exception rather than the rule, and much of the remainder of the programme is a good deal better in every way. The recorded sound is at its best in the atmospheric performance of the G major Sonata, K283, which musically gives us an advance over the style found previously. Try, for example, the very opening (track 13: 0.00), with its appealing principal theme; this is typical of the best features of the performances. Then the finale is a virtuoso movement at tempo Presto, which shows the dexterity of the playing to excellent effect.

Terry Barfoot

see review Volume 2


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