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29.5.13

Bezuidenhout's Mozart Continues

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Mozart, Keyboard Music, Vol. 4, K. Bezuidenhout (fortepiano)

(released on January 8, 2013)
HMU 907528 | 71'29"
Kristian Bezuidenhout, in an excellent traversal of the keyboard works of Mozart, continues to furnish jewel-like renditions of pieces you thought you knew but hear in different ways now, as well as others you did not really know and now wonder why not. We have admired the earlier volumes of this series, as well as live performanes by the South African-born fortepianist -- at Dumbarton Oaks in 2008, and the Dresden Music Festival last spring. He generally plays on historical instruments, or modern ones made in imitation of them, appropriate to the music he plays, like the 1837 Erard with which he accompanied Mark Padmore in Schumann's Dichterliebe. For Mozart, Bezuidenhout chose a fortepiano built by Paul McNulty in 2009, modeled on an instrument built by Anton Walther & Sohn, in Vienna in 1805, loaned to him by Aleander Skeaping and tuned in an unequal temperament at A=430. Informative program notes by John Irving, Professor of Music History and Performance Practice at the University of Bristol, note an eyewitness account of what was likely Mozart's first encounter with a fortepiano, when he performed during a visit to Munich in 1774-75 on a concert with Ignaz von Beecke. The young man lacked "a command of subtle gradations of volume and balance that could be achieved on this touch-sensitive instrument." Irving also notes that in keyboard pieces from around the time of that visit and after, Mozart's manuscripts bear the dynamic markings and other nuances indicating the composer working out the possibilities of the new instrument.

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Vol. 1
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Vol. 2

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Vol. 3
This program is centered on two sonatas (K. 311 and 283) and a decorative but meaty set of variations (K. 354) on Je suis Lindor, a tune from Antoine-Laurent Baudron's Le Barbier de Séville Mozart heard on his visit to Paris in 1778. Two smaller pieces join them together, a rather high-minded Prelude and Fugue in C major (K. 394) and two versions of the D minor fantasia, K. 397 -- one ending on a V7 chord, as Mozart had it printed, used as an improvisatory intonatio to the D major sonata (K. 311), and the other with the final bars tacked on to the work by August Eberhard Müller. Bezuidenhout makes an expressive case for some of the things that Mozart may have had in mind in these pieces: raucous fortes contrasted with wan, almost whispered pianos; the use of the sustaining pedal to create clouds of sound; tangy chromatic grace-note accents and many other improvised ornaments. Even if you cannot imagine listening to Mozart on anything other than a modern piano, you should have a listen.

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