Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Daniel Barenboim Plays Mozart
Disc 1: Piano Sonatas K. 279-284
Disc 2: Piano Sonatas K. 309-311, 330, 332-333
Disc 3: Fantasia in C minor, K. 475, Piano Sonatas K. 457, 533, 545, 570, 576
Daniel Barenboim (piano)
rec. 1988-1990, Max-Joseph-Saal, MŁnchner Residenz; Schloss Haimhausen.
Directed by Klaus Lindemann and Klaas Rusticus.
Picture: NTSC/4:3; Sound: PCM stereo; Region: 0 (worldwide)
EUROARTS 2066528 [3 discs: 330:00]
 
Recorded from 1988 to 1990, this 3-disc set features Daniel Barenboim playing all of Mozartís sonatas in two grandiose rooms, the Schloss Haimhausen and the Max-Joseph-Saal in Munich. Recorded for German television, this series of videos is revelatory. While Barenboim is a bit more rigid than in films made more recently - I think notably of his recordings of Beethovenís piano sonatas made a few years ago during live recitals in Berlin - he gives Mozartís piano works the attention they need. Itís fair to say that these piano sonatas are not as profound as Beethovenís, especially the earlier ones, yet they are full of fine music, lovingly performed by Barenboim.
 
The performances here are in chronological order, so as you progress through the three DVDs - five and a half hours of music! - you can appreciate the changes in Mozartís style at the piano. Barenboim comes through here as truly understanding Mozartís musical language, even if he may not be the first pianist you would think of as a Mozart interpreter.
 
Barenboimís Beethoven recordings on DVD - somehow they never got reviewed on MusicWeb International - are a fine example of not only excellent performances and creative filming. They show a pianist who is relaxed, yet energized by his audience. I always find videos of musicians alone in ornate rooms, such as these Mozart films, a bit odd, yet once Barenboim starts playing, I can forget the surroundings.
 
The camera-work is relatively benign - not too many cuts, few fancy shots - with the exception of some moments where two over-the-shoulder cameras cut back and forth between Barenboimís right and left hands, each time with the keyboard at an angle, and each shot being the opposite 45 degree angle. This is interesting once, but quickly gets tired. Most of the camera-work is close enough to see Barenboim perform, but doesnít always focus on his hands. While the sound is fine, the picture suffers from some deterioration. There is a note in the booklet to this effect; Euroarts did their best to restore these videos.
 
All in all, this is a very good set to own if you like Mozartís piano sonatas. The performances are excellent, the sound fine, and having all of Mozartís piano sonatas in one set is a bonus. As far as I can tell, itís the only complete set available on DVD.
 
With five and a half hours of pleasing music, lovingly performed by Daniel Barenboim, how could you go wrong?
 
Kirk McElhearn
Kirk McElhearn writes about more than just music on his blog Kirkville (http://www.mcelhearn.com).
 
Excellent performances, fine sound, this complete collection of Mozartís piano sonatas is a joy to listen to and to watch.