MOZART: The Complete Piano Concertos
Viviana Sofronitzki, fortepiano and harpsichord (in the juvenile concertos), with friends and the Musicae Antiquae Collegium Varsoviense (the early instrument ensemble of the Warsaw Chamber Opera) conducted by Tadeusz Karolak
Pro Musica Camerata (11 single, separate CDs), [Distributed by Albany]
You will want to acquire the complete set without delay.
out of nowhere comes a complete recording using original instruments of Mozart’s
piano concertos that knocks the competition out of the box. It is extraordinarily
fresh and alive, up on all the latest musicological evidence without ever making
it sound affected or stylized (just stylish!), recorded in beautiful clear sound,
and featuring an extraordinary pianist named Viviana Sofronitzki whose father
was the great Russian virtuoso Vladimir Sofronitzki.
Sofronitzki the father was famous for being one of the supreme Scriabin interpreters, so much so that Sviatoslav Richter and Emil Gilels looked up to Sofronitzki as their master.
But what’s most remarkable is that her performances are so exquisitely phrased, so understanding of the profoundly relationship between line and phrasing that Mozart’s seemingly simple writing implies, so rich with poetry and yet lacking not an ounce of dramatic muscle and virtuosic display where necessary, that it is if the music were coming straight from the composer’s heart and head to these eleven CDs.
Sofronitzki plays the cadenzas as if they were absolutely spontaneous, and the ones she supplies where Mozart left none, are illuminating miracles of charm and invention. In general, she ornaments sparingly, but always at just the right, unguarded and vulnerable time. The orchestra is with her every step and every breath of the way, with a wide variety of gorgeous sounds from the woodwinds adding color and emotional depth.
Also starring in this amazing achievement is a fortepiano made specially by Paul McNulty for the Mozart Festival in Warsaw. It is modeled on an extant example from around 1795 by Anton Walter, who built Mozart’s pianos. It is walnut and features moderator and sustaining knee levers, the equivalents of pedal on the modern piano. Volumes 10 & 11 contain the harpsichord concertos.
Viviana Sofronitzki’s Mozart cycle is an extraordinary achievement. You must sample it for, if you take as much delight in what you hear as I, you will want to acquire the complete set - which may well be a limited edition - without delay.
-- Laurence Vittes