Alfred Brendel

Mozart: Piano Sonatas K281, K282, K576; Fantasia in C minor, K396

(Digital Download - Decca #)

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The sonatas on this album are considered to be harder than most Mozart piano sonatas because they present a few more technical challenges, such as ornaments at the beginning of the melody or contrapuntal entrances of the theme, than his other sonatas. Alfred Brendel makes these challenges sound oh-so-easy and natural. His is a graceful Mozart with many detailed shadings, despite his occasionally playing with more forcefulness than is necessary and not as subtly as it could be. The opening of the Sonata in E flat, K. 282, and the Fantasia, K. 396, have similarities in their slow, meandering, but not random, temperaments. Brendel gives the minuets of the E flat sonata more idiosyncratic humor than one expects of a stately dance. The Sonata in D major, K. 576, is particularly elegant. He doesn't make too much of the hunting call at the very beginning of the first movement's main theme, but keeps it in proportion with the rest of the theme, and he handles all the contrapuntal entrances of that same theme as if they were part of a full-fledged fugue. Brendel recognizes the Classical refinements of Mozart's sonatas and combines those with a little coloring to give them more depth and character.

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