Muller’s Musically Meaningful Mozart Cycle Continues

Review by: Jed Distler


Artistic Quality: 9

Sound Quality: 9

In contrast to the poised symmetry and scrupulously balanced Mozart playing of pianists such as Walter Gieseking, Marc-André Hamelin, and Christian Blackshaw (to name just a few), Jean Muller is often angular and edgy. He’s not afraid to speed up a phrase following an emphatic accent, or roughen up his focused sonority to underline a passing dissonance. You won’t find, say, Roberto Prosseda’s inventive embellishments or improvisational gestures, but you will notice Muller’s ear-tickling yet musically meaningful changes of emphasis or voicing on repeats, and how he shapes second subjects with subtle yet characterful contrasts to the opening themes.

Moreover, Muller is a master of timing. Take, for example, his precise placement of soft chords in K. 311’s Rondo, or how teeny pauses before the forte left-hand octave upbeats in K. 279’s finale evoke the sound of surprise. Muller rightly feels K. 282’s central Menuetto as one beat to the measure, although little hint of a polonaise comes across in the pianist’s austere deliberation over K. 284’s central movement. However, Muller’s intelligent deployment of coloristic resources (degrees of pedaling, variety of articulation, carefully meted-out trills, and so forth) will surely hold listeners’ attention in this sonata’s long concluding variations movement. Even in a catalogue overrun with world-class Mozart solo piano recordings, Muller’s gifts deserve attention and consideration. I look forward to further volumes.

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Recording Details:

Album Title: Mozart--Piano Sonatas, Vol. 2
Reference Recording: K. 279: This one, K. 311: Brendel (Philips), K. 284: Würtz (Brilliant Classics)

    Piano Sonatas No. 9 in D major K. 311; No. 4 in E-flat major K. 282; No. 1 in C major K. 279; No. 6 in D major K. 284
  • Jean Muller (piano)

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