Mozart’s first six piano sonatas were written in Münich in 1775.
The composer had journeyed there in late 1774 for the première
of La finta giardiniera.
Tirimo is a sure-fingered guide to these works. He speaks
in his booklet notes of hearing opera characters in the keyboard
writing, characters that do indeed surface with irresistible
is a “mozart250tirimo” logo on this disc and on others in
the series; this is clearly Tirimo’s personal tribute to Mozart’s
genius. But he goes head-to-head in this repertoire with a
recent reissue on Music & Arts of Lili Kraus’s exquisite
Mozart of 1954: CD-1001, a five-CD box that includes a whole
disc of variations and smaller pieces. For all his strengths,
Tirimo must make way for the greater player. I use the word
‘great’ with care, for while Tirimo is infallibly musical,
always tasteful and ever respectful of his text, it is Kraus
who penetrates closer to Mozart’s core.
first movement of K279, the first sonata we hear, is highly
ornamented, and Tirimo does not avoid just a suggestion of
awkwardness. The Andante runs to eight minutes but Tirimo
is rather on the surface, so one feels the proximity to ten
minutes. The finale is rather lifeless and careful – there
is a cheekiness here that Tirimo chooses to ignore.
second sonata, K280 is given in robust fashion – first movement
triplets have strength but are surely too heavy. It is only
in the Adagio that one gets a sense of Tirimo’s connection
with this music. This is a remarkably bleak movement, deep
and well articulated here. The finale is playful, if not legs-in-the-air
funny. The fourth sonata (K282) is remarkable for beginning
with an extended Adagio (here 7’37). It is the only sonata
to begin with a slow movement. Tirimo plays it well but again,
comparative listening reveals Kraus to be the truer Mozartian.
The ‘Menuetti I & II’ second movement is unfortunately
rather anonymous, while the finale contains accents that feel
rather awkward, rather over-stressed.
D major opens more strongly than one might expect, and soon
becomes clumsy. It sounds a little as if it is a keyboard
reduction of an orchestral score. A tendency to stab at accents
does not help. Tirimo is right to refer to the variations
of the finale as ‘one of Mozart’s masterpieces’. Repeated
listening means that an agogic hesitation feels rather manufactured.
This is nowhere near the miraculously controlled Mozart of
Kraus. Tirimo’s legato actually sounds uneven in the eleventh
variation, an Adagio cantabile that he refers to as ‘the jewel
of the whole work’.
whatever Tirimo’s many strengths, this is rather unengaging