Mozart piano sonatas

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anasazi
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Mozart piano sonatas

Post by anasazi » Sun Feb 25, 2007 8:23 pm

I have recently pulled out my old book of Mozart's sonatas and resumed my attempted butchering of them. But this nearly criminal activity of mine brought questions to mind and I was hoping to hear what all of the Mozart experts here could offer.

First, if there are other musicians here, what is the consensus of the Theodore Presser edition of the sonatas? Should I be playing from some different edition?

Second, I am interested in purchasing one of the complete sets of Sonatas on CD. I've read a lot of reviews on Amazon, but sometimes those do not always tell me what I want to know.

So what are your recommendations? And - WHY?

I know there is Uchida, apparently highly rated by Penguin. My library has it and so I will soon fnd out my own feelings about it.

There is one by Gould (believe it or not). Does anyone own this one? To say that he is making fun of Mozart kind of belies the fact that, well, he spent an awful lot of time in doing so, since he recorded all the sonatas.

The most intriguing set I have seen was with De Larrocha. One of my all time favorite pianists. But I read that the sound wasn't so good. Do any of you own this set and can elaborate further?

And any complete sets I have not mentioned. I am mostly interested in recordings on the modern piano. I usually prefer my Mozart to be not 'under glass'. That is, there is musical tension in his works and I don't like it to be glossed over.
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Allen
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Post by Allen » Sun Feb 25, 2007 8:49 pm

I, too, hope to gather opinions on the various complete sets available.

In particular, I would like to know the relative merits (and demerits) of the following sets:

Uchida - Philips
Klara Wurtz - Brilliant Classics
Maria Jao Pires - Brilliant Classics
Walter Klien - Vox Box

Thanks.

Opus132
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Post by Opus132 » Sun Feb 25, 2007 8:57 pm

Casadesus is the greatest Mozart interpreter there's has ever been, but he only recorded an handful of the sonatas.

I generally just go for Klien. I don't listen to those works all that much though, they are not first rate Mozart IMHO...

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Post by CharmNewton » Sun Feb 25, 2007 9:07 pm

I have the Gould set from its first U.S. CD issue on CBS Odyssey. His readings of slow movements can be beautiful and the outer movements can be very quick--his Presto is really a Presto. I've always liked Gould's piano sound.

I have four discs of Laroccha's RCA set. I didn't find sound to be a problem, but recall being disappointed by a lack of spark (I feel the same about Uchida). I was planning to re-visit these as her recordings have been mentioned in several recent threads.

Finally, let me put in a good word for my favorite of the sets--Christoph Eschenbach's on DG. Generally light in sound and touch, expressive and extremely well played but not as extreme as Gould. Eschenbach is such a fine conductor, it's easy to forget he was one of the great pianists of the second half of the 20th century.

Hope this helps,

John

Brendan

Post by Brendan » Sun Feb 25, 2007 9:32 pm

Personally, I think Clara Haskil had the most delightful touch with Mozart imaginable, but I haven't seen a complete set. Eschenbach's set is quite superb.

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Post by DSzymborski » Sun Feb 25, 2007 11:53 pm

Uchida's performances are almsot universally liked, beautifully played and recorded. However, they also bore me to tears - I like my Mozart red-blooded and I feel that the smooth, almost precious approach supplies too much varnish for music that's already well-varnished from a performance standpoint.

My two personal favorite Mozart sets are Horszowski/Arbiter and Brautigam/BIS. The former is Mozart full of vitality, but the sound's not particularly good and Horszowski and the actual notes were occasionally prone to missing each other in the elevator. Brautigam uses a fortepiano and gives amazingly exuberant performance, though the texture takes some getting used to if you're used to modern piano.

If one must have modern piano in good sound, the Eschenebach recommended above is a solid set as is the dramatic, but uneven Barenboim set.

Edition-wise, I'm much enjoying the New Mozart Edition that was just released. It's even in the public domain, too, with his complete works available (http://dme.mozarteum.at/mambo/index.php). Definitely worth a trip over there, even if only to snag some of the lesser known pieces that don't seem to pop up.
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Post by RebLem » Mon Feb 26, 2007 12:24 am

Of the three sets I have and have listened to, my first choice is Klara Wurtz, which was also given the highest praise in Fanfare. My second choice would be Eschenbach, but he has what I feel are occasionally overfast tempos. Uchida is certainly technically proficient, but somehow seems to lack any real sense of identification with the music.

I also have recently acquired the Gieseking and Lili Kraus sets, but I haven't listened to them yet.
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Post by gfweis » Mon Feb 26, 2007 6:47 am

I like the Kliens very much, but my favorite pianist in the sonatas is Ingrid Haebler, who recorded them for Philips, then later for Denon. The latter set, which I am lucky to have in its entirety, has truly glorious sound. They are currently out of print, but the individual cds often show up in various places. They are very much worth tracking down. This is what one of them looks like:

Image
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Post by gfweis » Mon Feb 26, 2007 6:52 am

Sorry about the missing image. I used to be able to do this and can't figure out what I'm now doing wrong. You can find the picture at amazon.
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Post by jbuck919 » Mon Feb 26, 2007 8:54 am

The Presser edition, edited by Nathan Broder, is what I have always used. Though all the usual Urtext suspects (Henle, Baerenreiter, etc.)weigh in with what I imagine are excellent editions, I have never had reason to question the scholarship or utility of that excellent edition.

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Post by anasazi » Mon Feb 26, 2007 6:29 pm

I'm beginning to have some ideas from all of the suggestions made.

But DSzymborski, what do you mean by Barenboim being uneven? Just what it seems to be? Or are there other factors there (the piano itself, the recording, etc.).

Obviously there are a good many more choices that I first imagened, so I appreciate all of the suggestions here.
"Take only pictures, leave only footprints" - John Muir.

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Post by gperkins151 » Mon Feb 26, 2007 8:46 pm

I third the recommedation for Klein. I love his idiomatic style and faster tempos, not to mention his incredibly low price.
George

Gregory Kleyn

Post by Gregory Kleyn » Mon Feb 26, 2007 9:18 pm

Though many critics dismiss the interpretations as unbearably graceless and ponderous, or as "old man's" Mozart, - for a much more weighty and serious approach (as I would characterize it) to the sonatas than is typical, - making the works sound positively Beethovenish - I'd give Claudio Arrau's Philips box a try. I prefer it to all the others, - and I'm no more than middle-aged.

Klien's clipped and staccato-laden style I find unbearable, - Mozart in a strait-jacket. Yuck.

What exactly does "idiomatic" mean, BTW? (And I await for myself also an explanation of Barenboim's "uneveness"). They sound like words lifted from music magazine reviews.

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Post by johnQpublic » Mon Feb 26, 2007 9:44 pm

To hell with recordings. You said you're hacking through them.

From one fellow Mozartian hacker to another, tell me what you think of the slow movement of the B-flat major, K.333.
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Post by xiaopv » Mon Feb 26, 2007 11:15 pm

Anybody have any comments on Gieseking/EMI set and Schiff/Decca set? By hearing some samples of Schiff, he plays relatively faster than Gieseking. But other than the speed, I couldn't tell much difference between these interpretations out of these samples. I think both of them shouldn't go wrong.

Thanks in advance for your comments!

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Post by rogch » Tue Feb 27, 2007 12:43 pm

Allen wrote:
In particular, I would like to know the relative merits (and demerits) of the following sets:

Uchida - Philips
Klara Wurtz - Brilliant Classics
Maria Jao Pires - Brilliant Classics
Walter Klien - Vox Box
All of those can be recommended. Klien's set is the most original one in my opinion. The sound of his piano is rather thin and sometimes you feel that he lacks power in the first movement. But his sense for details is phenomenal, even the under-rated early sonatas sound like masterpieces. And his slow movements are terrific.

Friedrich Gulda has just released a number of Mozart's piano sonatas and fantasies. The interpretations are said to be very original and bold. Glenn Gould's set is so universally condemned that it makes me a little curious...

On the Naxos website i have listened to some of Ronald Brautigam's recordings on a forte-piano (released on BIS). I like the sound of that instrument now that i am used to it. But it must be the most expensive set available, three double CDs at full price.
Roger Christensen

"Mozart is the most inaccessible of the great masters"
Artur Schnabel

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Post by gperkins151 » Tue Feb 27, 2007 4:44 pm

rogch wrote:
Allen wrote:

All of those can be recommended. Klien's set is the most original one in my opinion. The sound of his piano is rather thin and sometimes you feel that he lacks power in the first movement. But his sense for details is phenomenal, even the under-rated early sonatas sound like masterpieces. And his slow movements are terrific.
Roger that, Roger! :)
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Post by Corlyss_D » Tue Feb 27, 2007 5:52 pm

rogch wrote:Klien's set is the most original one in my opinion. The sound of his piano is rather thin and sometimes you feel that he lacks power in the first movement. But his sense for details is phenomenal, even the under-rated early sonatas sound like masterpieces. And his slow movements are terrific.
Our late lamented founder, Ward Botsford, had something to do with that recording. He may have been the producer. If memory serves, he thought very highly of Klien's style and preferred his Schubert recordings above all others' interpretations.
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anasazi
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Post by anasazi » Tue Feb 27, 2007 7:39 pm

johnQpublic wrote:To hell with recordings. You said you're hacking through them.

From one fellow Mozartian hacker to another, tell me what you think of the slow movement of the B-flat major, K.333.
Suggestion of the month! suggestion of the month! And I thank you for the advice. I've played through it (that's a rough term of course) about four times today. Of course one has to have a firm concept of the quarter note's value in one's head.

Obviously, Mozart didn't leave all his best stuff to the clarinet or the horn!
I had been practising the D major sonata, but I think I may spend less time with that now, and more time with K 333.

Also, about recordings. I've heard one mention of Klara Wurtz. Are there any others? I'm not sure Kline will be my cup of tea, given descriptions of a thin tone. I'm kind of a Rubinstein 'nice tone' first kind of listener. And that doesn't of course always make music, but it's my starting place anyway.

Anyway, the Wurtz set is on sale for almost nothing at Berkshire right now.
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Post by johnQpublic » Tue Feb 27, 2007 9:09 pm

Relish the dissonance just as you cross the repeated bar line. It's very daring using a strong pair of non-chord tones on the downbeat while simultaneously modulating!!! It's not for dainty ears.

And watch how he sinks into more & more flats arriving at the suggestion of the non-existent key of d-flat minor from mss 42-47 & one measure later (48 ) flips back into the reality of tonic E-flat! Pure magic!

You'll never see Dittersdorf attempt such moves.
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Post by piston » Tue Feb 27, 2007 9:22 pm

But, then, Mozart didn't compose one hundred and ten symphonies. Dittersdorf was moving in an entirely different direction. :!:

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Post by val » Wed Feb 28, 2007 7:30 am

In the case of Mozart Sonatas, I prefer some isolated versions, from several interpreters.

Lipatti in a famous recording, gave a splendid version of the K 310.

It was a surprise to me, but Horowitz revealed himself a great interprter of these works: K 281, 330, 333 and the Rondo K 485 and the Adagio K 540.

Perahia is another good interpreter of Mozart, in the Sonatas K 310, 331 and 533.

The best version of the famous K 331 is, to me, the one of Wilhelm Backhaus, with an also remarkable K 457. But in this last work my favorite version is the one of Dino Ciani (with the Fantasia K 475).

Last but not least, I love the beautful CD of Andreas Staier playing in the pianoforte the Sonatas K 330, 331 and 332. The version of the K 330 is a magical moment.

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Post by johnQpublic » Wed Feb 28, 2007 8:09 am

piston wrote:Dittersdorf was moving in an entirely different direction. :!:
I don't call harmonic stasis a direction...hehe
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Post by rogch » Wed Feb 28, 2007 9:20 am

Corlyss_D wrote: Our late lamented founder, Ward Botsford, had something to do with that recording. He may have been the producer. If memory serves, he thought very highly of Klien's style and preferred his Schubert recordings above all others' interpretations.
Wow, that is interesting. I have considered to buy Klien's Schubert set. The main rivals are probably Uchida and Kempf. Uchida is phenomenal in Schubert, perhaps even more impressive than in Mozart.
Roger Christensen

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Post by Hondo » Wed Feb 28, 2007 1:17 pm

I would like to add a few supporting words for the Klien edition of the complete Mozart piano sonatas on Vox. His performances are fresh, elegant, full-bodied, and truly "Mozartian." The sound is surprisingly good for recordings made in 1964. All 18 sonatas are included on four bargain-priced discs - a great value, well worth owning even if you get one of the other complete sets. For what its worth, the 1994 edition of The Penguin Guide awarded the recordings a Rosette.

Gabe

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Post by Marc » Wed Feb 28, 2007 2:30 pm

Bart van Oort at Brilliant Classics, Complete Keyboard Works.

Maybe you should try to find this set somewhere. Fourteen discs of Mozart, for a reasonable price, played on various fortepianos. IMHO, Van Oort plays with more spirit than Brautigam.

It's not really complete though, the set is without the previously unknown 'Allegro di Wolfgango Mozart'.

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Post by Corlyss_D » Thu Mar 01, 2007 3:08 am

rogch wrote:
Corlyss_D wrote: Our late lamented founder, Ward Botsford, had something to do with that recording. He may have been the producer. If memory serves, he thought very highly of Klien's style and preferred his Schubert recordings above all others' interpretations.
Wow, that is interesting. I have considered to buy Klien's Schubert set. The main rivals are probably Uchida and Kempf. Uchida is phenomenal in Schubert, perhaps even more impressive than in Mozart.
The Klien are so cheap, Roger, you could buy two sets and still have money left for a coffee and sweet roll. :D
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Post by rogch » Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:12 am

Corlyss_D wrote: The Klien are so cheap, Roger, you could buy two sets and still have money left for a coffee and sweet roll. :D
:lol: Well, the Uchida set is quite cheap too, at least from some European retailers. So perhaps i can afford both? Maybe later. I listen to Schubert from time to time, but i don't inhale yet.
Roger Christensen

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Post by DSzymborski » Thu Mar 01, 2007 4:16 pm

<I>But DSzymborski, what do you mean by Barenboim being uneven? Just what it seems to be? Or are there other factors there (the piano itself, the recording, etc.). </I>

Mainly that Barenboim's approach works best in sonatas in which there's enough tension available - the minor ones and 332/3. In 279 and 545, Barenboim seems almost bored at times. Of course, that could possibly be me projecting my own biases as those two are my least favorite Mozart sonatas by far.

I've heard a lot of good things about the van Oort Mozart. I haven't heard it personally, though, but I do like van Oort's Mozart. As for Gould, I'd listen to it once (once.) out of curiosity if I were you. There's something perverse about Gould's performances of the Mozart quite fascinating - maybe 1 part to knowing the pianist hated the pieces to 1 part listening to a pianist who thinks that Alberti bass is the coolest thing ever in this repetoire.
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Post by anasazi » Thu Mar 01, 2007 7:52 pm

I may have to try both the Kline (even though it's a pianoforte) and Wurtz (because of the rave reviews at Amazon.com) because they are both very inexpensive. I'm still planning to sample the Uchida (from my library) first however. I really wish Perahia had a complete set, I adore his recordings of the Mozart concertos.
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Gregory Kleyn

Post by Gregory Kleyn » Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:19 pm

rogch wrote:
Corlyss_D wrote: Our late lamented founder, Ward Botsford, had something to do with that recording. He may have been the producer. If memory serves, he thought very highly of Klien's style and preferred his Schubert recordings above all others' interpretations.
Uchida is phenomenal in Schubert, perhaps even more impressive than in Mozart.
No way. Uchida is excruciatingly self-indulgent in her Schubert interpretations, - completely incapable of playing the music just simply and sincerely, without pulling the tempos and dynamics every which way she can in a misguided attempt to wring the emotions out of music which needs no such superimposition to communicate its charms and depths.

Though I've no use for his Mozart recordings, Klien's Schubert cycle gets things largely right just by playing the music straight, - without Uchida's pretense and excess. Many of these works were scribbled on napkins in Vienna cafes, after all. They need playing in the same almost offhand and casual manner for the underlying profundities to register IMO. Uchida obscures everything but Uchida. No thanks.

Gregory Kleyn

Post by Gregory Kleyn » Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:27 pm

DSzymborski wrote:<I>But DSzymborski, what do you mean by Barenboim being uneven? Just what it seems to be? Or are there other factors there (the piano itself, the recording, etc.). </I>

Mainly that Barenboim's approach works best in sonatas in which there's enough tension available - the minor ones and 332/3. In 279 and 545, Barenboim seems almost bored at times. Of course, that could possibly be me projecting my own biases as those two are my least favorite Mozart sonatas by far.

I've heard a lot of good things about the van Oort Mozart. I haven't heard it personally, though, but I do like van Oort's Mozart.
What's that? You like it (van Oort's Mozart) though though you haven't heard it?

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Post by Hondo » Fri Mar 02, 2007 6:46 pm

[quote="anasazi"]I may have to try both the Kline (even though it's a pianoforte)[/quote]

I assume you meant the Klien Mozart sonata set. Klien uses a standard concert grand in the recordings, not a pianoforte. The notes that come with the CD's don't identify the piano manufacturer, but the concert grand sounds pretty good.

Gabe

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Post by anasazi » Fri Mar 02, 2007 7:39 pm

Hondo wrote:
anasazi wrote:I may have to try both the Kline (even though it's a pianoforte)
I assume you meant the Klien Mozart sonata set. Klien uses a standard concert grand in the recordings, not a pianoforte. The notes that come with the CD's don't identify the piano manufacturer, but the concert grand sounds pretty good.

Gabe
Thanks for the clarification. For some reason I had the idea that Klien recorded them on a pianoforte. My mistake.
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Post by CharmNewton » Fri Mar 02, 2007 11:54 pm

DSzymborski wrote:
anasazi wrote:But DSzymborski, what do you mean by Barenboim being uneven? Just what it seems to be? Or are there other factors there (the piano itself, the recording, etc.).
Mainly that Barenboim's approach works best in sonatas in which there's enough tension available - the minor ones and 332/3. In 279 and 545, Barenboim seems almost bored at times. Of course, that could possibly be me projecting my own biases as those two are my least favorite Mozart sonatas by far.
.

I think what you say of Barenboim being uneven reflects my experience with his playing in concert. He was either on or off and when the latter he was pretty dull. I haven't heard these recordings in a while, but they didn't leave much impression then.

I have re-visited Volume 3 of de Laroccha's RCA cycle and really enjoyed K. 310 and K. 311. K. 310 is a dramatic reading, while the articulation in passagework and ornaments in K. 311 is breathtaking.

John

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Post by pizza » Sat Mar 03, 2007 3:27 pm

Gregory Kleyn wrote:
DSzymborski wrote:<I>But DSzymborski, what do you mean by Barenboim being uneven? Just what it seems to be? Or are there other factors there (the piano itself, the recording, etc.). </I>

Mainly that Barenboim's approach works best in sonatas in which there's enough tension available - the minor ones and 332/3. In 279 and 545, Barenboim seems almost bored at times. Of course, that could possibly be me projecting my own biases as those two are my least favorite Mozart sonatas by far.

I've heard a lot of good things about the van Oort Mozart. I haven't heard it personally, though, but I do like van Oort's Mozart.
What's that? You like it (van Oort's Mozart) though though you haven't heard it?
What's so unusual about that? Look at all the professional critics who liked Joyce Hatto's Mozart without having heard it!

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Post by Corlyss_D » Sat Mar 03, 2007 3:34 pm

Gregory Kleyn wrote:What's that? You like it (van Oort's Mozart) though though you haven't heard it?
Don't spook him. Dan sightings are rare enough around here.
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Post by DSzymborski » Sun Mar 04, 2007 12:29 am

It should read Van Oort's <B>Haydn</B>.

It'd definitely be fantastic if I developed the ability to judge things I've never heard - I could probably fund the rest of the Goodman Haydn set just from the money saved from not buying various unsatistfactory Haydn/Schumann symphony recordings over the years. Or maybe a new car if you add Mahler to the mix as I'd probably buy a box of lint if it said Mahler 1st or 9th on the front.
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Post by ch1525 » Sun Mar 04, 2007 1:17 am

pizza wrote:What's so unusual about that? Look at all the professional critics who liked Joyce Hatto's Mozart without having heard it!
HAHA! :lol:

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Post by John F » Tue Mar 27, 2007 12:56 pm

Gould always said that Mozart wasn't much of a composer, and I wonder whether he didn't make that recording of the sonatas in order to prove his point. Many of his interpretive ideas are irrelevant if not actually frivolous, such as playing a series of variations in increasingly fast tempos regardless of what Mozart wrote. The set is a curiosity but certainly not a first choice.

Like val, I don't think any one pianist has played all the Mozart sonatas as well as or better than everyone else. When in college I bought the Gieseking set for the repertory, not just the sonatas but all the other wonderful piano pieces, but for some reason he plays in a rather dainty, bloodless way, with no pedal. (Badura-Skoda says Gieseking believed Mozart's piano had no sustaining pedal, and jokes that he was too tall to see the lever right under the keyboard and worked by the knee.) The set by Maria João Pires is much better, but I don't think she equals the best individual recordings.

For me these are Dinu Lipatti in K.310, Clara Haskil in K.280 and 330, Artur Schnabel in K.332, Lili Kraus in K.333, Solomon in K.570, Vladimir Ashkenazy in K.576, and just for fun, Fritz Neumeyer in an Archiv record of K.331 with a "Turkish stop" for the Janissary music in the finale. Others will have different favorites and there may well be recordings out there I'd like if I had heard them.

But you might get as much pleasure, or more, by playing some of the variation sets and individual movements not attached to any particular sonata.
John Francis

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Post by Holden Fourth » Tue Mar 27, 2007 3:14 pm

In the past I've had complete or nearly complete sets from Uchida, Klien and Zacharias and while all three had their great moments none were totally fulfilling - especially in the lesser known and earlier sonatas. Then I stumbled upon a 2 disc Regis recording of Klara Wurtz playing 8 of the better known sonatas.

The first piece on disc 1 was the "Alla Turca" and my immediate impression was how crude it sounded. That impression didn't last long! Not for Wurtz that 18th century salon style prissiness. This was alive, in your face, yet still retained those subtle nuances you must evoke to play any Mozart keyboard work and I loved it. Deciding to investigate further I managed to audition her in some of the earlier sonatas and pieces that had previously sounded banal sprang to life.

While I haven't heard every single sonata, this is the set for me and those two discs are still in my car CD stacker 6 months later and still being enjoyed. So goodbye Uchida et al and welcome Klara Wurtz. The complete set is available from BRO at a very cheap price. My set is coming by slow boat from China (NY) so I'll report back when it arrives.

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Post by Steinway » Wed Mar 28, 2007 10:05 am

Overall, I rank Klara Wurtz's Mozart as the premier interpretation.

Closely following are Zacharias, Eschenbach, Uchida , Giesiking & Schiff for complete sets.

Forget Gould. His dislike for Mozart is clearly evident in his playing.

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Post by slofstra » Wed Mar 28, 2007 2:27 pm

DSzymborski wrote:Uchida's performances are almsot universally liked, beautifully played and recorded. However, they also bore me to tears - I like my Mozart red-blooded and I feel that the smooth, almost precious approach supplies too much varnish for music that's already well-varnished from a performance standpoint.
I probably shouldn't say too much, given that I listen extensively to almost anything in the keyboard realm other than Mozart's sonatas (saving K 330s and the ubiquitous Turkish rondo). I have the Uchida set (it was inexpensive) and given that I like her playing so much (Debussy's Etudes, for example and M's concertoes), and finding this set so dull, I thought the problem was with Mozart. (Can one say such a thing? Will this even get through the CMG firewall?) Didn't Mozart write a lot of these when he was still a wee lad, and still cutting his compositional teeth. If I was inclined to dabble further in this area I think I might welcome the eccentricities of the much maligned Gould.

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Post by Chalkperson » Wed Mar 28, 2007 6:41 pm

Lili Kraus made two cycles, one first one has just been remastered by Music and Arts and is a superb set the later set is on Sony, not quite as memorable but at a bargain price...

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Post by Lance » Wed Mar 28, 2007 7:00 pm

Brendan wrote:Personally, I think Clara Haskil had the most delightful touch with Mozart imaginable, but I haven't seen a complete set. Eschenbach's set is quite superb.
Indeed, anything of Mozart (or Schubert) with Clara Haskil takes first position with me. Too bad she never recorded all the solo piano sonatas. She did record all the violin sonatas with Artur Grumiaux - probably among the best on recordings [Philips].
Last edited by Lance on Wed Mar 28, 2007 7:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Lance » Wed Mar 28, 2007 7:08 pm

steinway wrote:Overall, I rank Klara Wurtz's Mozart as the premier interpretation.

Closely following are Zacharias, Eschenbach, Uchida , Giesiking & Schiff for complete sets.

Forget Gould. His dislike for Mozart is clearly evident in his playing.
Much as I admire Glenn Gould, I was terribly disappointed in his Columbia Mozart solo recordings. I was dismayed somewhat by Walter Gieseking's Mozart as well. Walter Klien, a true Viennese, seems to have this music in his blood (available inexpensively from Vox).

A two-CD set you may want to investigate appears on Orfeo [C712 0621] all taken from live performances given at the Salzburg Festival between 1956 and 1974. They include:

Sonata in a, K. 310 with Arrau and Gilels

Sonata in C, K. 330 with Haskil, Gould, Cherkassky

Sonata in A, K. 331 with Backhaus

Sonata in F, K. 332 with Backhaus

Sonata in c, K. 457 with Curzon

Also included is Gilels performing Six Variations, K. 398. The Backhaus and Haskil particularly stand out for their inner beauty and focus. Gilels, too, performed this music convincingly. Curzon sounded a bit nervous here, and Cherkassky might be just a tad out of his element.
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Post by John F » Wed Mar 28, 2007 7:20 pm

<< I thought the problem was with Mozart >>

The piano sonatas are far from Mozart's most compelling works for his own instrument, I think. He didn't compose them for himself or other professionals to play, as sonatas weren't performed in public concerts, but for publication and use by amateurs. In concert he played concertos and improvised, and some of the independent works--variations especially, but perhaps also fugues--apparently began as concert improvisations.

That said, quite a few of the sonatas go way beyond the demands of the market. Those in A minor and C minor, of course, and several others. These tend to be the sonatas you hear from pianists who don't record the complete series. And for me it's usually those pianists whose performances stand out.
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Post by slofstra » Fri Mar 30, 2007 12:39 pm

Would someone who is well acquainted with the sonatas care to break them into an A,B and C list? This might be a useful list for the casual but less intrepid Mozart sonata listener (i.e. me), and for anyone that browses this thread in the future. If this request stimulates an argument so much the better.

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Post by John F » Fri Mar 30, 2007 2:37 pm

My A list would include #5 in G, K.283; #8 in A minor, K.310; #10 in C, K.330; #11 in A, K.331; #13 in B flat, K.333; #14 in C minor, K.457, with the C minor fantasia; #17 in B flat, K.570; #18 in D, K.576.

I can't divide the rest into two lists, so count them as my B list. And yes, that includes the best-known of all, #16 in C, K.545, which piano students play.

Actually, Mozart's sonatas for piano duet (2 players at one piano) and 2 pianos are more consistently engrossing than the solo sonatas, for me anyway. For the 2-piano sonata I like the recording by Ashkenazy and Frager. The piano duets are on two Westminster LPs I got a half-century ago, with Paul Badura-Skoda and Jörg Demus, and I haven't replaced them yet, though no doubt there are good recordings currently available.

(I do not like the sound of ancient pianos, which sound to me like toys, and all my recordings of the above are on modern Steinways, Bösendorfers, etc.)
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Post by Chalkperson » Fri Mar 30, 2007 2:55 pm

And never forget his sublime masterpiece the Rondo K511 my all time Mozart favourite, and for the Two Piano Sonatas may I reccomend the two discs by Yaara Tal & Andreas Groethuysen on Sony

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