Notes and Editorial Reviews
How much you enjoy this recording may come down to your taste for the fortepiano. This particular instrument (a copy of a 1795 Anton Walter) has a fairly assertive voice, especially in the middle and lower registers, and Kristian Bezuidenhout's unreserved willingness to indulge this feature gives it a presence that leaves no doubt that it's an equal partner to Petra Müllejans' early-18th-century violin. And she's no slouch either when it comes to assertive tone and articulation, and in fact, these performances work precisely because the two players so completely and successfully project a rather unsubtle, more muscular yet always stylistically respectful attitude on these well-trod works that makes no apology for--rather it
celebrates--the instruments' rougher edges and stark timbres.
The more obvious manifestations of this style are immediately heard in the Allegros to K. 454 and K. 379. It's possible here to find some continuing evidence of the interpretive mannerisms that colleague Jed Distler faulted Bezuidenhout for in his review of a 2001 recording of Mozart sonatas & fantasies (apparently made with this same fortepiano), using such descriptions as "effortful and overly emphatic", "picky & discontinuous", and employing a "mincing approach to detaché articulation", and some listeners will not embrace these traits of Bezuidenhout's technique; but as mentioned, in this particular interpretive context--and perhaps because of the presence of a collaborative artist--the approach works, and we are treated to vibrant, life-affirming performances, highlighted in the delightful interplay in the final movement of K. 379, where both performers are in complete, harmonious interpretive form, clearly enjoying the back-and-forth dialogue.
And that's really the point here: although there are literally dozens of recordings of Mozart piano/violin sonatas, in both modern and period-instrument formats and by first-rate performers, this one sets a distinctive tone by virtue of the fact that Müllejans and Bezuidenhout are clearly finding and realizing the spirit and fun in Mozart's music, and they project it to listeners like few others have done on disc. The sound, from a London studio, is appropriately intimate and true to the natural, earthy, vibrant timbres of the two instruments. Highly recommended!
--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com
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