I got up early so I start a thread.
Is there anyone who, likes me, loves this idiosyncratic recording? GG himself is reported to have said, of his Mozart complete Sonatas (but I very much regret he didn’t add the short, wonderful and amazingly experimental Kv574 Gigue), I think that with Mozart I did my worst.
Not true, in my opinion. I believe that he so much loved to be controversial at all costs that that was his way to admit he had actually done very well. For sure, some of the tempos are intentionally fast and inexpressive, but to me the whole body of the Sonatas has important features:
- The sound of the piano is perfect for the epoch and the style: dry, with no use of the right-hand pedal, allowing for even the fastest passages to run smooth and crystal clear. At the same time, it is a piano, not the impression of a harpsichord.
- The phrasing is perfect - I can easily follow the Sonata Form structure even with a low attention span; his control of the form is apparently absolute, and is reflected in the cut of melodies and of virtuoso passages. He is well aware of the difference in presentation necessary to differentiate the exposition of a Sonata from its reprise - he may play one theme staccato the first time and legato the second, for instance: allowing for the second time to sound less tense, extrovert than the first one - a release of spannung.
- He deals with the most popular numbers - Kv545’s Andante, Kv331’s Rondo alla turca - with a definite denier’s attitude: avoiding everything that’s taken for granted in ‘common’ performances. The left hand part for the Andante from the C major Sonata is written, in Bärenreiter Urtext, with no expression marks; in most other editions it is notated as Dolce and Legato; so one may be taken aback by the extreme way GG plays it staccato and totally un-savoured, but it is not contrary to Mozart’s indications, and WAM is always precise when he cares that his intentions are respected. GG’s Kv545 Andante sounds, to me, like the No! and the You’re ugly! a disappointed child yells to his loved mum; and the moans with which he accompanies some build-ups of tension in a structural crescendo seem declarations from a shy, reluctant lover.
In the end, if I just listen with a minimum of care my attention is soon caught like in a spider’s web and I am taken to the end by the most expert, careful, dedicated driver. He just can’t fool us…
- GG’s Mozart is, after all, addictive: it happens to me that when I return to more establishment-friendly readings I find them slow, muffled, arbitrary, unsuccessfully wannabe expressive; some nervousness fits Mozart well in my opinion. That is why I only have two Sonatas integrals: his and Maria João Pires’s. But GG’s is my favorite, the pros being so much more than the cons that I end up uninterested in any other version.
Anyone else for GG’s Mozart?
Thanks for reading,