Michail Lifits

Michail Lifits Plays Mozart

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Uzbek-German pianist Michail Lifits follows in a long strain of German pianism going back to Wilhelm Kempff: restrained, with a goal of elegance and subtlety rather than sheer intellect. He certainly has the technical equipment for the style, with the Mozartian runs unfolding in pearly consistency of the sort that makes prize juries roll over and put their paws in the air. And you can see what he wants to do: stick to this style but give the works a bit more individuality in the interpretation. He gets off to a good start in the Fantasia in D minor, K. 397, with a unique and exciting reading, quiet but heavily pedaled, that gets across the piece's extreme qualities without making it seem merely preparatory to Beethoven. The problem is that with this work the listener is left hanging; nothing else on the program matches it. Lifits alternates between early sonatas done with perfect balance and aplomb, and a pair of mysterious late Mozart pieces, gloomy indeed. Lifits wants to emphasize the contrast, but the Rondo in A minor, K. 511, and Adagio in B minor, K. 540, do not quite come off. They are boldly taken very slowly, but the homogeneity of tempo and texture wears the listener down in the end; Lifits doesn't quite seem to connect with them. Nevertheless, this is beautifully recorded, and it's a take on Mozart that's not much heard these days, worth hearing for that reason alone.

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