Notes and Editorial Reviews
Reviews of the original discs that make up this set:
Behind every Mozart solo piano composition is the human voice, and many interpreters understandably build their interpretations from the melody line down. By contrast, fortepianist Andreas Staier generates rhythmic and dramatic momentum by letting his left hand lead, so to speak. His firm, sharply delineated bass lines in the C minor sonata's outer movements and the E-flat sonata's Allegro finale evoke a symphonic rather than operatic aura that proves far more stimulating than Paul Badura-Skoda's equally rigorous yet less vibrant fortepiano traversals. I also applaud Staier's decision to take the E-flat sonata's central Menuets at a brisk one-beat-to-a-bar and
especially appreciate his delicious accenting of the Eine Kleine Gigue's dizzying cross-rhythms. Staier uses the gigue to close the unfinished C major Suite K. 399, and offers a convincing completion to the Sarabande that Mozart broke off after six measures. The G major Variations on a theme by Gluck are admirably fluent, straightforward, and free from the archness that Ronald Brautigam sometimes displays.
– Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
Hard on the heels of his disc coupling two sonatas with some miscellaneous Mozart piano pieces comes Andreas Staier’s recording of three of the finest sonatas, which, Andreas Friesenhagen’s perceptive liner note points out, the composer seems to have intended as a distinct and self-contained opus. Reviewing the earlier disc, I commended “Andreas Staier’s virtues (and those of his 1986 Monika May copy of a 200-year-old piano by Anton Walther)” as well as “the clarity and warmth of Martin Sauer’s production.
This time around, the virtues are even more striking. Staier’s wonderfully imaginative playing makes the sonatas seem bigger than one may previously have suspected—not, I hasten to add, through any kind of pseudo-romantic inflation, but simply through the seriousness and sensitivity he brings to every last touch of Mozartean invention. In terms of rhythm and timing, he emphasizes the distinction between long and short notes in a way that I find particularly exhilarating, since I have always felt that the best kind of phrasing was to be found in a temporal language analogous to the piers and spans of great bridge-building, the piers solid and immovable, the spans airy and volatile.
In all three of these sonatas, Staier offers a good deal more embellishment than before in the repeats (most though not all of which he observes), and the results are brilliantly effective. Sometimes he essays an octave displacement, sometimes he turns dynamics upside down, and in the “Turkish” rondo of K 331 he subjects several passages to the illumination of reversible counterpoint at second hearing. To summarize, I cannot recall any recording of Mozart sonatas that has given me so much pleasure, or so much fresh appreciation of the stature of music too often regarded as among the composer’s less significant creations. More, please.
– Bernard Jacobson, Fanfare
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