Mozart: Complete sonatas for keyboard and violin Vol. 1 - Cooper/Podger
Channel Classics CCS SA 21804
Classical - Chamber
Mozart: Complete sonatas for keyboard and violin Vol. 1
Rachel Podger (violin)
Gary Cooper (fortepiano)
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Review by John Broggio - January 28, 2007
A quite astonishingly beautiful disc that should make even those professed to be allergic to "period instruments" fall in love with their sounds.
As many will be aware from Vivaldi: La Stravaganza - Podger/Arte Dei Suonatori, Rachel Podger is a remarkable player but Gary Cooper was a new name to me - an omission I sorely regret from the evidence presented here! Some might wonder why Cooper is listed before Podger - one should note that these works were published as Sonatas for Keyboard and Violin; the piano gets more of a fair share (and perhaps more than its fair share!) than in many later "piano & violin" sonatas in terms of melodic interest - frequently the violin is accompanying the keyboard.
Starting their cycle with the Sonata in G KV 379, much is promised as this is a startlingly original work, even by Mozart's standards. Firstly, the chromaticism that is only hinted at in masterpieces such as the "Dissonance" quartet is given free rein in the first movement and is followed by a truly stormy and highly virtuostic allegro that caused me to wonder if it really were Mozart (it is as if he was trying to ape Haydn's Sturm und Drang period). The sonata is completed by a delightful set of variations (a device that was to prove popular for Mozart in chamber music).
We are then treated to a sonata catalogued as KV 6! This was one of the infant's party pieces and whilst it doesn't bear comparison with later masterpieces that he went on to write, it is a good deal more entertaining than many "mature" works of lesser minds. Podger & Cooper treat this with respect but never try to make it a more substantial work than it is - as in everything else on this disc, they judge all moods perfectly and invest just the right amount of gravitas for the relevant composition.
The third sonata on this 77 minute disc is the last sonata that Mozart wrote for the violin, KV 547 in F. It is one of the works that is deceptively given an "easy" tag by those either who know too little and don't realise what they are saying or those who know a lot and realise exactly what they are saying! Again, Cooper and Podger prove themselves fully equal to this "easy" task and cover both themselves and Mozart with glory.
The final sonata returns to where we started, chronologically speaking, with the sonata KV 378 in B flat. Like the first piece, it is in three movements and, like all the pieces, it is played with imagination, wit, grace and style.
As if this wasn't enough, Channel Classics have worked their usual magic and produced one of those special recordings where, in MCH, the walls of your listening environment just melt away and the timbre of the instruments is completely reflected and in sympathy with the music.
Tremendously enjoyable in every way and hard to keep out of my player. I greatly look forward to reviewing future instalments...
Copyright © 2007 John Broggio and HRAudio.net