Bruno Fontaine

Mozart: Piano Sonatas

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French pianist Bruno Fontaine has worked mostly in the pop field, with collaborators including the extraordinary Johnny Hallyday. This group of Mozart sonatas marks one of his first solo releases. It's a bit of a throwback to a very old school; many of the heavily expressive moves in Fontaine's performances might have come out of Mozart editions of the 19th century. He adds tempo rubato, pedals heavily, and thoroughly alters the style of repeats in lieu of adding ornamentation to them. At times it's nice; the lively humor and the constantly shifting direction of the Rondo alla turca of the Piano Sonata in A major, K. 331, make for a nice change of pace from ordinary readings. At other times Fontaine seems to be pounding the keys, trying to wring emotion out of them. The opening Piano Sonata in C major, K. 545, the famous little "easy" sonata, perhaps can't stand up to the changes Fontaine puts it through; you can sample his rhythmically odd treatment of the final movement to see whether you will enjoy his approach as a whole. The first two movements of the Piano Sonata in B flat major, K. 333, become pretty ponderous when undergoing Fontaine's serious treatment, but he deserves credit for not following anybody else's example. If you are OK with Mozart that sounds like it must have when Chopin played it, this live recording is worth hearing.

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