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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Piano Sonatas, Volume 2

Sonata in D major, K 284
Sonata in C major, K 309
Sonata in D major, K311
Roberte Mamou (piano)
Rec 1991, Ghent
PAVANE ADW 7247 [67.40]

 

Experience Classicsonline

This disc is a reissue of recordings made ten years ago and has been fitfully available since then. Roberte Mamou recorded the complete Mozart piano sonatas on five CDs, and these are now available 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 and the background and music are disposed of within four 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.

The D major Sonata, K284 was written in Salzburg in 1774, when Mozart was eighteen. Perhaps he intended to perform it in Munich, when he went there for the premiere of his opera La Finta giardiniera. The most striking feature of this piece is the extended finale in variation form, lasting some 19 minutes out of nearly thirty minutes for the whole piece. This is Mozart's longest sonata to date and how to maintain the tension across the time span is clearly an issue for the performer. Mamou is pretty successful, although in truth the music itself does not entirely justify its indulgent scale. A wider range of phrasing and associated dynamic shadings might have helped in this regard; but perhaps the point is the nature of the music itself. Mozart would achieve greater mastery of variation form in his Viennese years.

The jewel in the crown of this particular collection is the performance of the C major Sonata, K309. This dates from rather later, from the winter of 1777-8, when Mozart was at Mannheim en route for Paris. His intended audience is therefore unclear, but no matter, since the music is so good. Here the three movements achieve a more satisfying balance, with a charming and sensitive Andante at the centre.

The Rondeau finale, an Allegretto grazioso, displays the merits of Mamou's Mozart playing particularly well, and of the recording too. The shaping and phrase structure seem just right, projecting a natural and flowing momentum which is quite unforced. The dynamic shadings are sensitive and perfectly judged, so too the clean articulation of the tricky series of scales which provide the virtuoso element in this delightful sonata.

With the inclusion of an equally pleasing performance of the D major Sonata, K311, this disc is a most welcome addition to the catalogue.


Terry Barfoot

 



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