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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Piano Sonatas, Volume 5

Sonata in F major, K533
Sonata in C major, K545
Sonata in B flat major, K570
Sonata in D major, K576

Roberte Mamou (piano)
Rec 1991, Ghent
PAVANE ADW 7250 [73.50]

 

Experience Classicsonline

This disc is a reissue of recordings made ten years or so ago, but which have been only fitfully available since then. Roberte Mamou recorded the complete Mozart piano sonatas on five CDs, and these are now available once again; this is the last in the series. Their return to the catalogue 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. Not even the exact dates and venue are given. The same slackness is true also of the programme note, alas, which is far too short to give more than the most rudimentary introduction to the music. In fact, in this particular instance the sweeping generalisations don't stand up at all well. This is a pity, since the performances are interesting and sensitive.

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, phrasing the music with care for Mozart's line and his music's thematic personality. When these things feel as spontaneous and natural as they often do here, the performer can take due credit.

These are Mozart's last four sonatas, so it is to be expected the music is more sophisticated than ever before. While these pieces are no more advanced than the great C minor Sonata, K457, which was featured to pleasing effect on disc 4 of Mamou's collection, they do challenge the pianist in terms of subtlety to a greater extent than many of the other works in the series. Perhaps that is why the results on this particular disc are more mixed than among Mamou's other performances.

The standards are still, high, however, although sometimes the interpretations don't seem to catch fire. Take the F major Sonata, K533, for example, in which the central Andante is taken at a lugubrious Adagio pace with robs the music of life. Neither the structure nor the expression gains from this approach, since a classical Andante should be quite quick really.

A similar complaint might be made against the famous opening movement of the C major Sonata, K545 (TRACK 4, 0.00), although here the result is simply a slight lack of sparkle. To be fair, clear articulation is a gain from this relatively slow tempo for an Allegro, but try this in comparison with, say, Andras Schiff (Decca), and it does seem somewhat pedestrian.

Perhaps the recorded sound contributes to the lack of vitality in these two sonatas. It does seem less atmospheric and warm than in many other performances in the series.

The last two sonatas, K570 and K576, are more direct as interpretations. Both have that remarkable quality of under-statement that was among Mozart's special gifts, and such a style suits Roberte Mamou very well. She also paces the music stylishly and pays careful attention to dynamic shadings. (Try K570, finale: TRACK 9, 0.00 and K576, first movement, TRACK 10, 0.00) In this way she brings her Mozart survey to a pleasing conclusion.


Terry Barfoot

The reviews for this complete set of discs of the Mozart Piano Sonatas can be seen here



 



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