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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Mozart In Munich
Piano Sonatas: No. 1 in C, K279/K189d (1775) [18:16]; No. 2 in F, K280/K189e (1775) [18:38]; No. 4 in E flat, K282/K189g (1775) [16:15]; No. 6 in D, K284/K205b, Dürnitz (1775) [28:27]
Martino Tirimo (piano)
rec. Mendelssohnsaal, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Germany, July 2005. DDD
REGIS RRC 1253 [79:45]


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.

Martino 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 finesse.

There 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.

The 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.

The 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. 

The 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’.

Ultimately, whatever Tirimo’s many strengths, this is rather unengaging Mozart.

Colin Clarke 








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