Viviana Sofronitsky

Mozart: Piano Concertos, Vol. 4

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Russian pianst Viviana Sofronitzki came from an old-school piano family but traveled to the Netherlands to study historical keyboard playing. This disc is part of a complete recording of Mozart's concertos, including the juvenilia; the whole set was recorded in a single stroke rather than over a period of months or years, and it is available either as a box or in individual discs. Sofronitzki is accompanied by one of the few Polish historical-performance ensembles, variously known as the Early Instruments Ensemble Warsaw Chamber Opera Orchestra or as the Musicae Antiquae Collegium Varsoviense. She matches instrument to chronological period in some of her recordings, but for the mature concertos, including the three here, she uses a copy of a Walter fortepiano made by American builder Paul McNulty -- who's really, really into it, having moved to Bohemia so he could supervise his lumber suppliers more closely. The results are impressive. The instrument is powerful, and Sofronitzki makes the most of the sharp articulation of which it's capable; it stands up well here to an orchestra of moderate size, and the balance between fortepiano and orchestra is expertly handled. Sofronitzki and conductor Tadeusz Karolak provide elegant, slightly dry readings that scrape away Romantic syrup, especially in the concluding Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major, K. 467, and reveal wind and horn parts clearly in the manner of other historical-instrument groups. Note how well the wind-infused cadences work in the famous slow movement of that concerto; they become a lovely detail in their own right, not just a stopping place. Sound is adequate but suggests a live performance, picking up bows hitting music stands and the like. Well worth trying out for listeners in search of the Mozart concertos on original instruments.

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