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Mozart: Keyboard Music Vol. 2 / Bezuidenhout

Mozart / Bezuidenhout / Rouskov
Release Date: 01/11/2011 
Label:  Harmonia Mundi   Catalog #: 907498   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Kristian Bezuidenhout
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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CD:  $19.99
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

MOZART Piano Sonatas: Nos. 10, 14. Rondos, K 485, K 511. Andante, K 540 Kristian Bezuidenhout (fp) HARMONIA MUNDI USA 907498 (70:42)

Volume 2 of Kristian Bezuidenhout’s traversal of Mozart’s keyboard works more than amply fulfills the high expectations engendered by his first release ( Fanfare 33:6). Here, alongside the felicitous Read more C-Major Sonata, K 330, and the D-Major Rondo, K 485, are three monuments of Mozart’s mature style: the haunting Rondo, K 511, the B-Minor Adagio, and the mighty C-Minor Sonata, K 457. Bezuidenhout plays a superb Paul McNulty replica, after an Anton Walther & Sohn piano c.1802. Yet, in this case, the verb “plays” seems inadequate. To a greater degree than many of his colleagues, Bezuidenhout is his instrument, the master of its every expressive potential. Under his hands, nothing seems overplayed, strained, or lacking either power or subtlety. We hear instead the Viennese-action piano as precisely what we know it must have been in its heyday: a musical tool of tremendous versatility, capable of such variety of expression that it inspired some of the most personal and enduring creations of the era.

Most striking perhaps is Bezuidenhout’s ability to capture Mozart’s rhetoric in a way that is at once vividly original and devoid of any fussy excess or striving for novelty. His approach is profoundly lyrical, as it must be in the piano music of a composer who was also a supreme genius of opera. Repeats are always varied with embellishments, as rich as they are organically inevitable. Attention to the smallest detail is never allowed to obscure the overarching dramatic sweep of these performances. Moreover, Bezuidenhout wears his obvious erudition lightly. His playing, for all its power to surprise and delight, is never less than perfectly natural. The overwhelming impression is of Mozart revealed in the fullness of his humanity—his tenderness, wit, anger, sweetness, distress, charm, elegance, ardor, despair, candor, and so much more.

If I were to voice a single small disappointment, it would be the decision to include the c-Minor Fantasy, K 475, in Vol. 1, rather than here as the preface to the Sonata, K 457 (something Mozart may or may not have intended). However, given the searing intensity of Bezuidenhout’s reading of the sonata, it may have been the right choice, lest the combined four movements overwhelm everything else in their affective impact. Of the manifold beauties of this performance, the finale, Allegro assai agitato, must be mentioned. Mozart punctuates this desperate flight from the Furies with no fewer than 15 fermatas, nine of which are above measures of whole rests. Bezuidenhout’s sense of energy and pacing is so acute that, though he gives these silences their full due and worlds seem to topple, no momentum is lost. On the contrary, the music continues through the silence and, when the sound resumes, it is with trebled intensity. Quite frankly, this is the most perfectly realized performance of this tragic masterpiece I can ever hope to hear.

The other two minor-key pieces are no less successful. The sliding chromaticism of the Rondo, K 411, has never been more exquisitely shaped. If these affective gestures seem bows of submission, they evoke fate accepted with the utmost dignity. A work that, in lesser hands, can seem episodic emerges here unified and cohesive. Bezuidenhout uses the moderator pedal judiciously. When he does engage it, as in passages of the B-Minor Adagio or in the F-Minor section of the C-Major Sonata’s slow movement, the veiled, otherworldly sonority is breathtaking. It would be a mistake to assume that Bezuidenhout excels only in Mozart’s more serious realms. The sun-drenched C-Major Sonata abounds with ebullient spirits and masculine allure. Meanwhile, the carefree playfulness of the D-Major Rondo is irresistible.

Bezuidenhout’s approach to Mozart is so captivating, his playing so natural, it’s tempting to forget that only artistic temperaments of the fiercest integrity are capable of such exalted music-making. Ultimately, it is not that Bezuidenhout’s point of view is so persuasive, but rather, listening to his interpretations, it’s hard to imagine any other. If you were to buy only one Mozart disc this year, this should be the one.

FANFARE: Patrick Rucker
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Works on This Recording

Sonata for Piano no 10 in C major, K 330 (300h) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Kristian Bezuidenhout (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1781-1783 
Rondo for Piano no 3 in A minor, K 511 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Kristian Bezuidenhout (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1787; Vienna, Austria 
Rondo for Piano no 1 in D major, K 485 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Kristian Bezuidenhout (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1786; Vienna, Austria 
Adagio for Piano in B minor, K 540 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Kristian Bezuidenhout (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1788; Vienna, Austria 
Sonata for Piano no 14 in C minor, K 457 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Kristian Bezuidenhout (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1784; Vienna, Austria 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Eminently Listenable Forte Piano! May 26, 2012 By T. Stearns (Nashua, NH) See All My Reviews "I'm no expert musicologist but Bezuidenhout's deft handling of the forte piano sounds just right to me in this period-correct material. Nothing bombastic or too arousing, the limited dynamic range and small-scale sound provides a soothing, settling background for those moments of contemplation and mental expansion we all need." Report Abuse
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