Mannered Four-Hand Mozart

Review by: Jed Distler


Artistic Quality: 4

Sound Quality: 7

It’s a puzzle why Newton Classics deemed this problematic 1999 Mozart disc (originally published by the Italian label Rivoalto) worthy of reissue. Granted, Elena Modena and Ilario Gregoletto utilize a stable, well regulated fortepiano (of unidentified provenance) and calibrate their ensemble playing to a finely honed degree. Yet their frequent tinkering with tempo and their mannered phrasings grow increasingly tiresome and predictable as the performances progress. Their lurching speed-ups and slow-downs in the outer movements of the D major and B-flat sonatas serve little expressive purpose other than giving the pianists something to do. Conversely, their overly brisk and detached treatment of K. 381’s central movement errs in the opposite direction—but one should credit the pianists’ ornamentation during the repeats. Mozart’s childhood C major sonata and the mature G major Andante with variations emerge in relatively straightforward fashion, despite the duo’s tendency to speed up while making crescendos. At least David Threasher’s booklet notes are vividly informative and very well written.

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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: Güher & Süher Pekinel (Warner Classics)

    Sonata in C major K. 19d; Sonata in D major K. 381; Sonata n B-flat major K. 358; Fugue in G minor K. 401; Andante with variations in G K. 501
  • Elena Modena & Ilario Gregoletto (fortepiano duet)

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