1 Fantasie in D minor K. 397 6:03
2 Rondo in D major K. 485 6:27
3 Fantasie [Capriccioj in C major K. 395 4:16
4 Rondo in A minor K. 511 10:27
5 Marche in C major K. 408 3:28
6 Praludio und Fuge in C major K. 394 10:13
7 Fantasie in C minor K. 396 originally for Piano & Violin
completed by M. Stadler 8:38
8 Kleiner Trauermarsch in C minor K. 354A
"Marche funèbre del Sigr. Maestro Contrapunto" 1:48
9 Adagio in B minor K. 540 13:25
10 Minuett in D major K. 355 2:56
11 Eine kleine Gigue in G major K. 574 1:53
12 Adagio for Glasharmonika in C major K. 356/617A 4:47
Richard Egarr fortepiono Johann Zahler, c 1805, Brunn
A Little Light Mozart (from the CD notes)
2oo6. A YEAR THAT will surely be full of celebratory concerts and recordings dedicated to a man born 250 years ago who died in less than glorious circumstances. The extent, both artistic and commercial, of this commemoration (were he somehow to know) would no doubt raise a smile on his young face. This genius wrote music containing the most profound, sublime, dramatic, intimate, frightening and human of experiences. If asked, I would probably choose him as the musician I would most like to meet.
And yet he is unreachable. Mozart is ultimately fascinating and impossible to conquer.
Performing his music will and should task the re-creator to open himself/herself up in order to fully express all that Mozart placed inside it. Only this complete acceptance and fearless emotional exposure can allow the performer to understand and communicate his music.
The stylistic and historical term 'Classical' (as opposed to 'Romantic') unfortunately can still inhibit performances of this repertoire. And, for the most part, the mid-twentieth-century idea of allowing only a 'beautiful', 'sublime' and 'feminine' delivery of Mozart has thankfully been replaced by more warm-blooded, three-dimensional interpretations. It seems utterly impossible that Mozart (the man who wrote Don Giovanni, Figaro and CosI fan tutte) was not as passionate or 'romantic' as Schumann, Liszt or Wagner. That he was writing in another, earlier 'classical' style should not limit our expressivity. The 'Classical' forms and language remain just that. They must be understood - then a full and moving account of the music
can and must be delivered.
The recital on this disc includes Mozart's structurally more 'free' music for piano: Rondos, Fantasies, and Preludes. These works are particularly important as they allow us to meet Mozart in his most raw emotional state. He inherited these forms from Johann Sebastian Bach and, perhaps more importantly, through his sons Carl Philipp and Johann Christian.
The Preludes, Fantasies, and Capriccio in particular, because of their improvisatoty and spontaneous nature, give us a direct window on Mozart at his most immediate and creative. The brooding opening of the great Fantasie in D minor, C. 397, gives way to a more lighthearted air. This piece has acquired a nineteenth-century editorial ending with no Mozartian provenance - the manuscript is incomplete. I offer an 'egarrtorial' option for the close of this little gem. Mozart originally intended the Fantasie in C minor, K. 396, to include a part for violin. Too little of this [part] survives to make an adequate reconstruction. However, Abbé Maximilian Stadler (a close friend of Mozart, and a fine and interesting musician in his own right) made an admirable completion of this work for piano solo. Although the second part gives way to fantasy of perhaps a more Schubertian nature, it is an extremely fine working of Mozart's material. Perhaps the most overlooked and undervalued work here is the Prdludio undFugein C major, K. 394. The freedom, wit and passion of the prelude is masterfully countered and tempered by the extraordinary fugue. Marked Andante Maestoso, it shows Mozart absorbing and wrestling with a new musical associate - the figure of J. S. Bach, whose music he had come to know during the early 1780s. The very opening of the fugue subject inhabits the same world as the first fugue from Bach's Das Wohitemperierte Kiavier, Book 1. The countersubject, with its winding, unprepared second and seventh clashes, is both daring and mischievous. In a letter of April 20th, 1782 to his sister, Mozart warns us about this fugue: "I've written Andante Maestoso over it on purpose so that it won't be played quickly..."
The more structured pieces on the disc - the Rondos, Adagios, Matches, Minuett, and Gigue - demonstrate no less imagination and depth of character. The range of emotions involved throughout the Adagio in B minor, K. 540, is extraordinary. Even the ending in the major seems to be more of a fateful resignation rather than a release. Here Mozart really does match Schubert. There are the sharp wit and quicksilver changes of the Rondo in D major, K. 485- and the odd humour of the Gigue in G major, K. 574. The hypnotic journey through the strange landscape of the Rondo in A minor, K. 515, leaves one speechless.
I end the programme with the Adagio in C major, K. 356, originally written for the Glasharmonika. I believe that using a fine original early piano can bring us into Mozart's sound-world and help us discover a multitude of colours in his music. I have been lucky to have access to many such instruments. Happily, the instrument used for this recording lives in Amsterdam, my home city. Built around 1805, its five and a half octaves can create an extraordinarily rich, almost orchestral sonority. Although a 'late' piano for playing Mozart (he would have been 49, had he lived...), its sound aesthetic is very much of a piano from the 1780s. We know nothing about the maker, Johann Zahler of BrUnn (Brno). Unlike virtually every copy I have played, good originals allow the dynamic range and colour possibilities that Mozart's music requires. Their sensitivity of touch is astounding, and the ability to turn on a sixpence is rather like driving an extremely powerful and finely-tuned car. Having taken you round the racetracks of his Fantasies, I wanted to leave you quietly. And how quietly these amazing old instruments can play - no microphone trickery, I assure you. In this final liquid Adagio (with the ethereal, other-worldly sound of the glass harmonica in mind) I employ both the piano's 'pedals' (actually knee-levers) for the entire piece. One lever inserts felt between hammer and strings, the other lifts the dampers and allows the strings to vibrate freely - total resonance. This too is Mozart's world - free, ringing, intimate, breathless, and quiet. I am very thankful he is still in our world at 250. Happy birthday!
- RICHARD EGARR