Lili Kraus

Mozart: The Piano Sonatas

(CD - Sony Music Distribution #88808)

Review by

Remember the things you've heard about Mozart being a graceful and elegant composer? Well, abandon all grace and elegance, ye who enter into these recordings of Mozart's piano sonatas by Lili Kraus. It's not so much that Kraus lacks grace and elegance as that those qualities don't enter into her playing or interpretations. What is Kraus interested in? Mostly, she likes barnstorming through the music, stopping now and again to dawdle with an Andante or to linger with a cantabile, but, more often than not, Kraus just wants to have her way with the music. And it's not that her way is exactly unappealing. In her early sixties when these recordings were made in 1967 and 1968, Kraus still had the fire and energy of a woman half her age and she did things with Mozart's music that, while they may raise some listeners' eyebrows, will raise other listeners' temperatures. Her precipitous tempos, her forceful rhythms, her lean textures, and her brusque phrasing may not seem like things that ought to be done to the graceful and elegant music of the little man from Salzburg, but so complete is Kraus' conviction and so commanding is her presence that the music, like the listeners, has no choice but to surrender. While not the first or only recordings of these works one should hear, Kraus' Mozart will appeal to listeners who already know Backhaus', Fischer's, Brendel's, Schiff's, and Eschenbach's Mozart and who are looking for new and different ways to hear long-familiar music. Sony's digitally remastered stereo sound is cool but clear and deep but detailed.

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