Mozart Piano Music – Lars Vogt

0 of 5 stars

Adagio in B minor, K540
Fantasia in D minor, K385
Fantasia in C minor, K475
Rondo in D, K485
Rondo in A minor, K511
Sonata in C, K330
Sonata in A, K331
Sonata in F, K332
Variations on a Minuet by Jean-Pierre Duport, K573

Lars Vogt (piano)

Recorded in March and June 2005 in Deutschlandfunk-Sendesaal, Cologne

Reviewed by: Colin Anderson

Reviewed: August 2006
CD No: EMI 3 36080 2 (2 CDs)
Duration: 2 hours 11 minutes

This is refined Mozart-playing with tempos judged to a nicety and with dynamic contrasts that are neither predictable nor intrusive, yet also with a demonstrative temperament capable of expanding this music’s perceived horizons. Although Lars Vogt regularly plays Mozart’s concertos, he has shied away from his solo repertoire; in his booklet note, Vogt is both informative about this particular recording venture and develops various points about ‘historically informed’ performance.

With him coming fresh to this repertoire, one certainly senses a just balance between spontaneity and thoughtfulness in Vogt’s playing. He really relishes the music and searches out possibilities without imposing himself on it, and with no recourse to novelty for its own sake, Vogt brings the music to the fore and he delights in the colours and range of a Steinway, respectful of ‘history’ but not constrained by it, and always keeping the textures lucid with both a sparkling touch and a lyrical shapeliness.

The first CD contains three sonatas (sequential in Köchel’s catalogue). The C major is joyous and the slow movement is eloquent. The A major sonata’s opening ‘Twinkle, twinkle’ tune is simply played, the subsequent Variations unfolded in improvisatory terms (and just occasionally indulged), the Minuet dawdled over (Vogt takes the ‘cantabile’ marking rather too literally), and with the famous ‘Turkish Rondo’ exhilaratingly fleet, Vogt’s poised fingers ensuring that ‘rush’ is not a charge to be levelled here. Vogt cherishes the wonderful F major work; he has time to make something of the most innocent scales and grace notes. The Adagio is endearingly chaste and the finale full of concerto-like brilliance.

The second CD is of fantasias, rondos and a set of variations, and ends with the B minor Adagio that Vogt gives with full emotional scope and with both halves repeated (Vogt is not so generous with repeats in the sonatas). And how sonorously Vogt unfolds the D minor Fantasia, a rich drama here (and in completed form), its C minor companion (sometimes used to preface the C minor Sonata, K457) acted out with powerful and foreboding declamation and with rhetorical contrasts of dynamics and tempos.

Of the pair of rondos, the D major clears the air in its subtlety and innocence and prepares the way for the searching yet elusive A minor; Vogt leaves no doubt as to its greatness. Whether the Duport Variations can be spoken of in the same breath is debatable; yet, given Vogt has chosen this work as part of his coming to terms with Mozart’s solo piano music is itself interesting, and his playing of music that can often seem anodyne is rather stimulating and persuasive that there is more to this particular work than previously suspected.

A most distinguished issue, then, if one not without reservations, and these tend to mostly concern Vogt’s leaning on phrases. But there’s also a conviction here that compels the listener; and it’s Vogt’s thoughtful musicianship that wins the day, his effortless technique merely a means to an end. With a recording of exemplary clarity, presence and tonal fidelity, this is a release to recommend and to return to.

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