Austrian pianist Siegbert Rampe, who is responsible for the flourishing historical instrument program at Arizona State University, is what one might call an ultra-authentic instrument performer. His series of CDs devoted to Mozart's keyboard works, which here reaches its 11th volume, includes every last scrap of keyboard music that anyone has been able to find and attempts to match each piece up with an instrument very close to what Mozart himself might have used. These albums are not for everyone, but there's something fascinating about them, especially when it comes to Mozart's juvenilia. Rampe uses a clavichord for many of these, including the large set of short keyboard pieces from Op. 15 and another early set of minuets heard here. He's one of the few keyboardists to apply a clavichord to music Mozart intended for domestic settings, despite manifest documentary evidence that it was indeed the instrument of choice. Another unusual instrument here is the "Venetian swell" harpsichord made by the London builder Burkat Shudi; both it and the clavichord (a modern copy of instruments by the Schiedmayer firm of Erlangen) are capable of limited dynamic and registral effects that blur the boundary between the variable dynamics of the fortepiano and the supposedly fixed level of the harpsichord. The Piano Sonata in C major, K. 545, is played on the Shudi instrument and works very well; a performer like Mozart would have been playing a fortepiano by that time, but he wrote that work for students, who might well not have owned one. A fortepiano -- a copy by Washington, DC, builders Barbara and Thomas Wolf of a Schantz fortepiano -- does enter at the end, on the unfinished Allegro, K. 312, and the Six Variations for piano, K. 398. It's an unusually clean, modern-sounding instrument. Rampe also offers plenty of other unusual but well-researched details, including a bracing clavichord tuning and plenty of improvisation in repeated phrases (sample the Andante of K. 545, track 3, for an idea of the extent). Strongly recommended for those interested, and as usual very well recorded by the German audiophile label MDG.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Eine kleine klavier Sonate für anfänger, KV 545|
|12 Menuets from KV 103 (61d)|
|Sonata 1 in B flat major, KV 10|