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No. 2 KV 280 · No. 12 KV 332 · No. 14 KV 457
No. 16 KV 545 “Sonata Facile” · No. 19 KV 576 “Jagdsonate”
Michael Endres, piano
Michael Endres’ complete recording of W.A. Mozart’s piano sonatas was unani-mously praised by the press. Finely balanced – thought through down to the last detail – no ostentation – pianistic brilliance: these are but some of the tributes paid. Now, the pianist has selected his own favorites for the present CD, explaining his choices himself in the accompanying booklet. An unusual, but simultaneously perfect collection of works from different periods of Mozart’s life. Michael Endres studied with Klaus Schilde and Karl Hermann Mrongovius in Munich, followed by work with Jacob Lateiner at Juilliard and Peter Feuchtwanger in London. In addition to his major loves – Mozart, Schubert, Schumann and Ravel – Michael Endres has a broad repertoire that includes seldom played or neglected composers like Carl Maria von Weber, Leopold Godowsky, Sir Arnold Bax and Eduard Tubin. He is currently preparing a recording of the complete piano sonatas by Arnold Bax, to be released in May 2006.
My favourite Mozart
This compilation is a personal selection from my recordings of Mozart’s entire 18 piano sonatas, chosen to demonstrate the whole range of these highly individual works.
The Sonata in F Major, K. 280 was written in 1775 in Munich, and is one of the 18-year-old composer’s early masterpieces. It already shows an amazing palette of expressivity.
The first movement begins almost improvisatorially,
with a thoroughly lyrical and cantabile first theme; the secondary theme, on the other hand, breaks with all conventions and is much more masculine and virtuosic. This movement is highly playful;
it goes back and forth between the two poles, providing an effective contrast with the enigmatic second movement (the only minor second movement in all 18 sonatas). The closing movement is rollicking and virtuosic
– almost undisciplined.
With the Sonata K. 332, written in 1783 in either Vienna or Salzburg, Mozart has
already reached the climax of his dramatic artistry. With a maximum on scenic and character changes – a new idea or ‘character’
is introduced just about every four measures – the first movement is a virtual firework of variety and inspiration. In the second, very songlike movement, Mozart deceives the listener’s expectations again by using a minimum of forms and contrasts. Both themes are presented twice, but without
any development. The only variation is a slight bit of ornamentation. After this island
of calm, the last movement pulls out all the stops; it is a colorful, bravura gallop of passagework and serenade. At the end, Mozart deceives the listener once again, closing the work with calm and restraint.
The dramatically dark Sonata in C Minor, K. 457, written in 1784, shows that theatricality
and quiet song are only one side of Mozart’s sonatas. This work, as the Sonata in A Minor, K. 310 and both minor-key Concertos,
K. 466 and K. 491, shows Mozart’s dark side; it sounds as if a cloud had covered the entire sky. The dramatic first movement – which almost anticipates Beethoven in this regard – is followed by the most intricate
and artistic slow movement in all 18 piano sonatas. Constantly striking out in another direction, permeated by dramatically
virtuosic figuration, this movement contains an immense palette and variation of expression. The restless last movement takes advantage of the piano’s extreme range and contains Schubertian outbursts.
The “Sonata facile”, composed in 1788, is exemplary for Mozart’s late period – the most enigmatic and magnificent music of our tradition. Mozart has now become utterly
sparing with his musical means, doing away with all superficiality. He seems to reduce music to the purely essential. Every-thing is highly memorable; Mozart’s melodic creativity now seems to have reached new heights.
His final work, the Sonata in D Major, K. 576, can be viewed as the sum of all 18 sonatas. It masterfully unites polyphony and brilliant concertante style with melancholic serenity. The inspired ideas of the earlier works – which have sometimes seemed to get the upper hand – are now structured in the best imaginable manner. But despite all formal skill, this sonata retains its unmistakable
Each of the 18 sonatas is an individual and original encounter with the sonata form. Mozart’s unorthodox solutions (e. g. in the Sonata in A Major, K. 331, which contains
no sonata-form movement), together with the enduring freshness of their melodic
invention make these works one of the major pianistic challenges of the repertoire. They can truly be said to be a monumental pillar between Bach’s colossal keyboard works and Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas.
Translation: Elizabeth Gahbler