Notes and Editorial Reviews
Orfeo has corralled a collection of Mozart sonata performances from the Salzburg Festival archives that features pianists approaching Mozart on diverse, often antipodal, and sometimes controversial terms. No less than three versions of the wonderful C major K. 330 sonata grace Disc 1, and they differ like night and day. Clara Haskil is angular, full-bodied, engagingly dramatic, and not averse to taking risks. Glenn Gould restricts his dynamics in a deliberate, drier, extraordinarily articulate reading that leaves little to chance. Shura Cherkassky is technically dazzling in a different way: he focuses on color rather than line, mood rather than structure, and oozes charm.
Although Wilhelm Backhaus retained certain 19th-century precepts of Mozart style into old age, the presence of an audience inspires more animated, energetic, and decisively projected fingerwork throughout the F major K. 332 (1962) and A major "Turkish March" K. 331 (1966) sonatas than in his versions for Decca (I've not heard the pianist's Decca studio K. 331, and refer to the live K. 331 issued from his last concert). In the "Salve tu, Domine" Variations and A minor sonata K. 310 Emil Gilels concerns himself with pianistic symmetry and effective dynamic contrasts. Claudio Arrau's K. 310 is "Schnabel-plus", boasting sweeping operatic arcs along with runs and ornaments in which every note sounds and speaks regardless of tempo. Once past a slightly square and spiky Allegro, Clifford Curzon's C minor K. 457 sonata settles down to an eloquently spun Adagio and a tautly organized yet subtly inflected Molto allegro finale. It's best to use my comments as a jumping off point for your own comparative listening observations, and I urge piano mavens to seize the opportunity. [4/13/2007]
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com