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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Piano Works Volume 2
Sonata in A minor, KV 310 (1778) [14:39]
Sonata in D, KV 311 (1777) [15:03]
Sonata in C, KV 330 (1783) [18:19]
Sonata in F, KV 332 (1783) [17:07]
Sonata in C, KV 545 (1788) [9:34]
Gabriele Tomasello (piano)
rec. Rome, 14-16 January 2013.
ACTE PREALABLE AP0289 [74:51]

This is volume 2 of Italian pianist Gabriele Tomasello's recording for Acte Préalable of Mozart's sonatas and other solo works. Volume 1, released a year ago, is reviewed here. In some respects, this is a puzzling cycle: after all, Acte Préalable bills itself as "Leading Label Promoting Polish Music & Musicians", a task in which it has often excelled. Even so, Mozart was no Pole, and neither is Tomasello - he is not even based in Poland. If there is any Polish connection - there is no law that insists it is not self-evident.
 
More significantly, Mozart's piano sonatas have been recorded by giants like Klára Würtz, Daniel Barenboim, Mitsuko Uchida, Maria João Pires, András Schiff and Alicia de Larrocha, with more fringe tastes catered for by the likes of Glenn Gould, Ronald Brautigam, Bart van Oort and Daniel-Ben Pienaar. Those are just some of the complete sets - almost every great pianist has recorded at least a few of the sonatas. Who then is a cycle by the relatively unknown Tomasello aimed at?
 
Acte Préalable do not even have the same price advantage as a Brilliant Classics or Naxos disc. In fact, for less than the price of a single volume of Tomasello, the buyer on a budget can have Würtz or Pires on Brilliant Classics (respectively 94034, 94271) or Gould on Sony (88725413592) - that is to say, their complete cycles on five CDs apiece.
 
Tomasello is undeniably a decent pianist and his playing of Mozart quite faithful, but there are no sharply-defined characteristics that stamp these recordings of Mozart's deceptive music - "too easy for children and too difficult for adults", in Artur Schnabel's words - with his name. In an overcrowded recordings marketplace, a standout personality is all but a prerequisite for attention in this repertoire. Although Tomasello is far from bland - he brings plenty of expressive subtlety to both the mature-sounding A minor Sonata and to the pedagogic 'Sonata Facile' K.545, for example - there is not quite enough character to warrant special pleading.
 
Audio quality is good - no sign of the recessed sound that typified the first album. The booklet notes are again furnished by Łukasz Kaczmarek. They are similarly detailed in an academic way - including footnotes and bibliography - albeit tending towards wordiness and translated with a slight foreign accent.
 
As is the case for volume one, those keen to support an independent Polish company doing what it says on the label - apart from here - and simultaneously on the lookout for a reasonable recording of Mozart's sonatas in the bargain, have no reason to hesitate. As far as complete cycles go, however, the wise investor will go for those Würtz or Pires bargains.  

Byzantion
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