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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Complete Clavier Works - Vol. 1
Fantasia in C minor (K475)** [12:17]
Sonata in C minor (K457)** [20:59]
Thema (con 5 variazioni) in F (K54/457a,3)* [06:03]
(Menuetto) in F (K2)* [01:03]
(Clavierstück) in B flat (K15ii)* [02:13]
(Clavierstück) in B flat (KAnh109b,9)* [00:52]
(Menuetto) in A flat (KAnh109b,8)* [00:39]
8 Menuets (K315a/315g)* [12:28]
Sonata in G (K283/189h) [17:11]
Siegbert Rampe, harpsichord (Nikolaus Dam, after Gottfried Silbermann, 1749), clavichord (*) (Dietrich Hein, after Christian Ernst Friederici, 1765), fortepiano (**) (Nikolaus Damm, after Johann Andreas Stein, 1755)
Recorded in August 2004 at the Paul-Gerhardt-Haus, Cologne, Germany
MDG 341 1301-2 [74:46]



The year 2006 will be Mozart year, as he was born in 1756. What will it bring us? A yet unknown masterpiece? Very unlikely. Perhaps a new perspective in the interpretation of Mozart's oeuvre? That is the best thing one can hope for. This recording of keyboard music by Mozart is perhaps the kind of recording which can make the Mozart year worthwhile.

Siegbert Rampe is a German keyboard player, who has already made many recordings of 17th- and early 18th-century keyboard music, and has his own ensemble, Nova Stravaganza. He is also active as a musicologist, and his recordings are always based on extensive research of the available sources. In 1995 he published a book on the interpretation of Mozart's keyboard music. One of the things he paid attention to was the question what kind of instrument Mozart had in mind when composing his keyboard music. And one of his conclusions was that a number of works which today are always played on the fortepiano, were probably intended for the harpsichord in the first place. It is from this perspective that this disc contains pieces played on the harpsichord, the clavichord and the fortepiano.

In the liner notes, Rampe explains his intentions: "The present CD is the first in a series of premiere recordings of Mozart's clavier works performed on instruments of his time - the harpsichord, the fortepiano and the clavichord. In addition to the familiar sonatas, variations and other pieces, it for the first time includes the early sonatas K 10-15, the compositions from the notebook for his sister Nannerl Mozart (1759) and the London Notebook (1764/65) and all the minuets, contredanses, German dances and ballets that exist in original keyboard versions. Appropriate ornamentation is added in the style of the time and repetitions are executed with improvised variations. Since the editions now to hand utilise only a part of the surviving source material, each recording is based on a single contemporary manuscript or on the first edition."

The disc opens with two of Mozart's most famous keyboard works, the Fantasia and Sonata in c minor (K475 and K457), which were composed in 1785 and 1784 respectively. The sonata was dedicated to his pupil Maria Theresa von Trattner. "Mozart's dedication copy of the C minor Sonata K457 for Maria von Trattner dated October 14, 1784 still exists, and that is the version which is presented for the first time on this CD". Rampe also argues that this sonata is the first Mozart specifically composed for the fortepiano. Until then, his compositions were always intended for either the fortepiano or the harpsichord, an instrument which many amateurs still had at their homes, and specimen of which were built in Vienna at least until 1804.

The last item is the fifth of six sonatas Mozart composed for his own public performances in 1775, and which he played on several keyboard instruments. But "he informed his father on October 17, 1777, only the last sounds incomparably good on the pianoforte of Stein". Rampe has taken this as reasoning for choosing the harpsichord to perform this sonata.

In between Rampe plays a number of smaller pieces, mainly minuets and pieces without a title, on the clavichord. The Variations K54 date from 1788 and are today mainly known in the version for keyboard and violin as the last movement of the Sonata in F (K547). The fifth variation in the keyboard version is incomplete and the keyboard part of K547 has been used to complete it. The Minuets K315a probably are the keyboard version of a series of minuets for orchestra, which have been lost.

From this one may conclude that this is going to be a very interesting series of recordings, which indeed could shed a new light on Mozart's keyboard works and their interpretation. I have heard a number of Rampe's recordings of 17th century keyboard works (Froberger, Muffat) and was generally pleased by his interpretations. In this case I find it difficult to judge his performances, as the recording technique hasn't done him any favours.

I generally enjoyed the performances on the clavichord, even though I think the recording volume has been too high. Sadly the sound of the harpsichord is so hollow that it is very unpleasant to listen to. In the performance of the first two items on this disc on the fortepiano too many details are lost, and in the fast passages the articulation lacks clarity. It is really a shame that the poor recording is undermining the artistic merits of these performances, in particular as it is my impression Siegbert Rampe's playing is pretty good. I appreciate his approach to the Fantasia and Sonata in c minor, which exposes the dramatic nature of these pieces, which Rampe considers "the most important clavier works of the late eighteenth century". I sincerely hope the next volumes will be better recorded and will fulfil the expectations this first volume arouses.

Johan van Veen



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