Listeners can choose from among a number of historical-instrument performances of Mozart's keyboard works. There are the compelling irregular, somewhat abrupt versions by Andreas Staier, the expressive readings of Ronald Brautigam, the clean-lined treatments of Malcolm Bilson, and now a cycle by South African-British fortepianist Kristian Bezuidenhout on the Harmonia Mundi label. Bezuidenhout is a somewhat experimental player, and his ideas (as in his bizarre concerto readings) can backfire. But one of the strengths of his series has been his choices among fortepianos built by American-Czech maker Paul McNulty, copying instruments by Viennese builder Anton Walter of Mozart's and Beethoven's time. Here he uses a copy of an 1805 Walter instrument, a real powerhouse that's a couple of decades too late for much of the music. But it works, for these are for the most part big works in which Mozart was exploiting every bit of the new instrument's capabilities; Bezuidenhout's slight exaggeration of pianistic effects allows him, as it were, to bring out Mozart's excitement at discovering these capabilities. The two minor-key fantasies and the Prelude and Fugue in C major, K. 394, are presented here in muscular, intense readings that work very well. Even better are the 12 Variations on "Je suis Lindor" in B flat major, K. 354, which can be a very tricky work to bring beyond the mundane. In Bezuidenhout's hands it's a sonic adventure. It might be argued that, composed in the year 1778, these variations are close to the dividing line between fortepiano and harpsichord, but Bezuidenhout certainly makes a strong case for them as piano works, and a work written for his own virtuoso use in Paris would likely have been conceived with the latest technology in mind. The location of the recording by Harmonia Mundi USA is not specified, but it is quite fine: the inner workings of the fortepiano are heard but not fetishized.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Sonata in D major, K. 311|
|Prelude & Fugue in C major, K. 394|
|12 Variations on "Je suis Lindor" in E flat major, K. 354|
|Sonata in G major, K. 283|