Viviana Sofronitsky

Mozart: Harpsichord Concertos, Vol. 10

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The four keyboard concertos on this disc aren't usually included in complete sets of Mozart's works, for their basic melodic material mostly consists of adaptations of music by other composers. They were created in 1767 by the then 10-year-old Mozart, under Leopold's supervision, apparently as a sort of composition assignment. At least in the English translation from the original Polish booklet notes, it's hard to tell exactly what Mozart did: "Mozart set these works amidst orchestral material of his own composition," they read. Apparently the models were solo harpsichord works Mozart turned into concertos in a challenging little assignment. As such, they are of a good deal of interest to hardcore Mozart buffs, for the music has something to tell us of the styles on which he modeled his own music. The composers involved, with the exception of C.P.E. Bach, were mostly Germans living in Paris, where Mozart had met them several years earlier and presumably acquired the music. Despite their association with Mozart they are almost unknown today. Hermann Friedrich Raupach was a keyboardist from the Baltic town of Stralsund who moved to St. Petersburg and visited Paris during Mozart's childhood tour there. Leontzi Honauer, from what is now Strasbourg, was active as a harpsichord player and teacher. The three movements of each concerto are assembled from mostly unrelated pieces, so they don't really hang together, but individually they are intriguing and shed light on aspects of Mozart's style that don't seem to come either from J.C. Bach or from his Viennese predecessors. The harmonically expansive opening movements of Raupach shed light on Mozart's tendency to think of concerto structure in large-scale terms. The second movement of the Keyboard Concerto in F major, K. 37, apparently by Wolfgang and Leopold themselves, is also interesting as an early example of Mozart's characteristic melodic warmth. Polish-Russian keyboardist Viviana Sofronitski uses a rather tinkly harpsichord here, and it's overwhelmed in spots by the strings of the Musicae Antiquae Collegium Varsoviense. Profuse editing errors in the booklet also detract from the value of the release, and this is obviously not the place to start for those interested in Sofronitski's series, but this music, not often recorded, is worth the time of those who live and breathe Mozart. The lack of attention accorded these works, in view of the exhaustive investigation of many other aspects of Mozart's career, is puzzling.

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