Andrew Manze / Richard Egarr

Mozart: Violin Sonatas, 1781

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With the exception of the fragmentary Sonata in C major, K. 403, here, Artaria published these sonatas by Mozart in 1781 as being for piano with violin accompaniment, as was done with many similar works of the time. Most people would agree, however, that these are true duo sonatas with the violin and piano being equal partners. In this recording, Andrew Manze's violin is obviously the star, even though Richard Egarr's fortepiano is more than mere accompaniment. The recording has excellent, close, clear sound, and it tends to favor the violin, even making allowances for the fact that the fortepiano is quieter than a modern piano. In the first movement of the Sonata in F major, K. 377, there is quite a bit of trading of melody between the two instruments. Both Manze and Egarr are aware of when each of them has the more important or interesting part, but the listener has to put more effort into finding it when it is in the keyboard part. Other than that, the two give these sonatas a rich reading, full of verve and spirit. Any Classical elegance in the music is given a dramatic turn. Manze and Egarr use Beethoven-like sudden, sharp contrasts between soft and loud, smooth and sharp, with great effectiveness. They restrain themselves a little in slower movements such as the Andante of the Sonata in E flat major, K. 380, where the interest of Mozart's brief dissonances is enhanced by Manze's and Egarr's staged turns of phrase. The fragmentary sonata has a natural refinement to it that the two can't help feeling, but they still give it an energy and broadness of shaping that makes it very appealing. The two practiced partners make these Mozart sonatas capture and hold attention for all the right reasons.

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