This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.
Notes and Editorial Reviews
To describe this as beautiful Mozart playing would be true, but not the whole truth. For what impressed me most was its very positive character. Everything is of crystalline clarity, everything is what can be conveniently summarized as stylish. Yet never is there a single bar's suggestion of note-weaving for its own sake. Ashkenazy always uncovers strong motives for the notes being there. For this reason he is more likely to convert disbelievers (and there are some, in the context of Mozart and the solo keyboard) than Haebler in her recent boxed set.
The disturbed A minor Sonata, K310, offers particularly interesting comparisons. Not only is Ashkenazy's tempo slightly quicker in the first movement and considerably quicker in
the finale: there is also much stronger internal tension in his playing, as well as bolder dynamic contrast. In the first movement I was interested to find him playing the first right hand A in the second bar as an appoggiatura—to match the D sharp at the start of the first bar. It certainly heightens the feeling of unrest. He is not consistent in his treatment of this motif on its several returns. But then, nor is Mozart in his notation in the autograph—so SS tells inc. When the bass gets the limelight in the middle section of the slow movement, Ashkenazy makes its staccato much more emphatic than usual.
In the D major Sonata it is only in the finale that Ashkenazy's tempo is livelier than Haebler's. Yet his first movement sounds more urgent and purposeful because of his way of looking ahead, of carrying through; in spite of rich imaginative response to detail, you hear the exposition as one Continuous argument. The slow movement is beautifully phrased, with an effective heightening of tension in the F sharp minor middle section before the recapitulation. Possibly one or two first beat bass notes in this section could have been given a bit more weight. I much enjoyed the fullblooded vigour of the finale.
The sleeve-note writer, Robin Golding, remarks on the "almost Chopinesque elegance and plasticity of melodic line" of the A minor Rondo, K511. This aspect of it seems to make a particularly strong appeal to Ashkenazy. I have heard more desolate performances, but none more full of assuaging lyrical beauty. He keeps it on the move, in accordance with the Andante marking, and moulds the notes into a singing line. The recording is everything that could be wished for.
-- Joan Chissell, Gramophone [4/1970]
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