Jean-Bernard Pommier

Mozart: Piano Sonatas K. 310, 331 "Alla Turca", 333; Fantasy in C

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French pianist and conductor Jean-Bernard Pommier, born in 1944, remains a fixture of concert programs on both sides of the Atlantic, often specializing in Mozart or chamber music. This budget release compiles some performances from 1982, apparently from multiple LPs. The packaging is minimal, but the collection captures some very nice Mozart performances of the old concert-grand school, with carefully detailed readings that tend to introduce variation in articulation whenever music is repeated, yet never lose sight of the overall line. Pommier's tempos are on the slow side, and he is disinclined to let the music run away with energy. The famed Rondo alla Turca from the Piano Sonata in A major, K. 331, will be rhythmically lacking in vigor for many listeners. But listen to the final rondo of the Piano Sonata in A minor, K. 310 (track 3). Pommier offers a lively variety of textures here, culminating in the lyrical A major theme just before the last return of the rondo material: instead of producing into the moment of legato calm Romantic convention has long dictated, Pommier lightly skips across the keyboard and slightly accents each note in a delightful effect. Each sonata is thought out in detail, although certainly not to every listener's taste. The transfer of the sound to digital results in an ambience similar to those of many early CDs made from LP recordings: the piano, nakedly exposed in the laser, clangs unpleasantly. But for those not listening on top-of-the-line equipment this is a satisfying reissue.

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