Mozart's music for his own instrument, the
piano, is always from the top-drawer, whether it be for solo
performer, for four hands, for two pianos, or for piano and
orchestra. These two discs have been well planned to cover as
much music as possible, and they are generously filled.
The project also makes a commendable attempt
to be complete, since it includes both shorter items and some
pieces which were originally written for other media. The latter
category includes the two works for mechanical organ, and the
Adagio from the Adagio and Fugue, which is wrongly listed in
the booklet as K426. In fact this Adagio is really K546, and
was originally composed for strings, having been written to
preface Mozart's own arrangement of the Fugue, K426. So what
we have here is an anonymous transcription. The booklet should
tell us this, but despite containing an excellent though rather
general essay by Harry Halbreich, one of Europe's leading musicologists,
the information is not forthcoming. Another mistake is that
the F minor Fantasia, K608 is listed as K698.
The performances give much pleasure. While
modern instruments are used (again the booklet is not forthcoming),
the style of playing is absolutely right for this repertoire,
with crisply articulated rhythms and a clear and direct articulation.
Try the first movement Allegro from the C major, K521, for an
excellent example of the playing at its best (CD2, TRACK 12:
0.00). The recording is abundantly lively and well focused,
although sometimes a little close, giving emphasis to the rattling
rhythms. This is not altogether a disadvantage because so much
of the music relies on rhythmic vitality, but too much of it
might become wearing, and some listeners may prefer a more mellow
Almost all the featured compositions are masterworks,
particularly the later sonatas. An exception is the earliest
piece, the C major Sonata, K19d 9CD1, TRACK 1: 0.00), which
was written by the nine-year-old wunderkind, and sounds like
it: all technique and less inspiration. The Ouziels, who hail
from Tel Aviv, make a fine team, ranking alongside similar but
more famous combinations, the Pekinels and the Labèques.
And they match the standards of those eminent duos.
The approach tends to favour setting a pulse
and staying attached to it. This is certainly valid, but at
the same time there are other options, such as allowing for
more fluidity and flexibility in phrasing the music and letting
it breath and articulate its expressive nature. Of course the
Ouziels do not deny these things, but tight ensemble is always
The best performances, fittingly enough, are
of the best music: the later sonatas. These give great pleasure
and are particularly well articulated, and best of all is the
F major Sonata, K497. The central Andante (CD2, TRACK 10: 0.00)
is quite splendid.