Notes and Editorial Reviews
6 Viennese Sonatinas,
Meiko Miyazawa (pn)
TALENT 2929 (SACD: 53:54)
These arrangements were a real discovery for me. The booklet notes are vague and not very informative, but here is my take, based on a listening comparison of models and arrangements: These keyboard sonatinas derive from the five divertimentos for wind trio (two clarinets or basset horns, and bassoon), K 439b: five divertimentos, each in five movements, rearranged as six sonatinas, in three or
four movements, with a few left over, unused. The original divertimentos are all in B?-Major; the (anonymous) arranger transposed them to a variety of idiomatic keyboard-music keys: C (twice), A, D, B?-, and F Major. Not only that, he (less likely, she) recombined movements from different works in new permutations, in rather haphazard fashion—for example, the original first movement of Divertimento No. 1 (in full sonata form) turns up (with less generic plausibility) as the finale of Sonatina No. 6 in C. The arrangements would seem to date from the early 19th century, and were first published by Artaria in 1805.
So much for the sonatinas’ inauspicious origins, almost certainly the product of craven commercial opportunism. But it has to be said that the piano arrangements, while unambitious and (mostly) technically easy, are very effective, despite (inevitably) losing the music’s original intimate connection with the characteristic wind-trio sound. The quality of the music, dating from the mid 1780s, is top-drawer mature Mozart (the booklet notes suggest a Masonic connection, on grounds of the original wind scoring). Every movement here is a little gem of melodic and harmonic invention and contrapuntal sophistication.
While the music may be technically undemanding, its quality deserves the highest artistry in performance. Meiko Miyazawa’s renditions (not new—these are analog recordings from the late 1970s) are wonderfully stylish, refined, and spirited. Allegros and minuets are zesty and polished, with a real rhythmic snap; slow movements have a singing purity and translucence. Miyazawa is a new name to me, and on this evidence I’d like to hear more Mozart from her.
All in all, such esoterica might seem an unlikely candidate for SACD resurrection more than 30 year later. The recording (on a Grotrian-Steinweg piano) is fairly close and intimate, with vivid presence. Searching ArkivMusic, I find one alternative recording, by Marie-Andrée Ostiguy on the Canadian (I think) label Mamusico. I’d be surprised if it’s as good as this, let alone better. An unexpectedly rewarding disc, and enthusiastically recommended to anyone in search of a delectable Mozartian novelty.
FANFARE: Boyd Pomeroy
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