Francesco Piemontesi at Wigmore Hall – The Mozart Odyssey: Piano Music 2

Piano Sonata in C, K279
Piano Sonata in F, K280
Piano Sonata in B flat, K281
Fantasia in C minor, K475
Piano Sonata in C minor, K457

Francesco Piemontesi (piano)

Reviewed by: Colin Anderson

Reviewed: 13 July, 2016
Venue: Wigmore Hall, London

Francesco PiemontesiPhotograph: Benjamin EalovegaFrancesco Piemontesi’s ongoing series of Mozart’s piano music at Wigmore Hall included three Sonatas from a set of six written when the composer was in his late-teens, which Köchel consecutively numbered, occupying 279 to 284.

With clarity, poise and dynamism throughout the recital, Piemontesi immediately alerted attention with the florid and playful nature of K279 and, with his limpid touch, he then revealed a dreamy Andante. In K280 the ear was further entranced by the pianist’s variations of volume and contact, the central Andante’s pathos anticipating the middle movement of the A-major Piano Concerto (K488). The finest Sonata of this triptych is K281, which ripples an invitation to take pleasure. The slow movement, marked Andante amoroso, proved to be a sublime romance and the Finale delighted in its Haydnesque surprises.

We progress ten years for the music in the concert’s second half. Piemontesi melded the C-minor Fantasia and same-key Sonata; indeed the former and the first movement of the latter were made indivisible, enough for a smattering of clapping from those who presumably thought the Fantasia had finished when we had in fact reached the end of the Sonata’s opening Allegro. K475 is large-scale and diverse: deeply serious, searching, consolatory, drawing-room charming and with an overspill of emotion. Piemontesi had the music’s measure and heightened its contrasts. He is not the first pianist to go straight into the also-ambitious Sonata (Mitsuko Uchida has done so), its Sturm und Drang characteristic a natural continuation, proto-Beethovenian, and here given full-value. The aria-like Adagio was suitably vocal in shaping, and given with increasing passion, while the elusive and angular Finale found Piemontesi uncompromising in revealing the music’s troubles.

In the haven that is Wigmore Hall, and with timeless music given such enlightening performances, it would have been a pity to end the evening in turbulence, so Piemontesi’s encore, the Minuet from Handel’s B-flat Suite, serene and highly decorated, was the perfect transporting foil.

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