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  Harmonia Mundi -
  HMC 801815
  Mozart: Piano Sonatas - Andreas Staier
  Mozart: Piano Sonatas K399, 574, 282, 455, 475, 457

Andreas Staier (pianoforte)
Track listing:
  Classical - Instrumental
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Reviews: 2

Review by beardawgs April 4, 2004 (3 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I have to say that solo piano works are not my favourite Mozartís music, and this is (only) a second disc of it in our music collection. And what a treasure this one is! Staier is a period keyboard specialist, and his playing is nothing short of fantastic. I am particularly impressed with his ability to paint the sound colour of his instrument, and making every piece a completely separate entity in terms of shades and expression.
My personal favourite is the incomplete Suite in style of Handel, though at moments it sounds like a set of Scarlatiís sonatas. Mozartís admiration for Bach is also never far away. Staier gives his virtuosity a full run in Gluckís variations, heís playing is concentrated and relaxed at the same time, as he is improvising on the spot.

All the unique colours of pianoforte are perfectly captured on this recording. Dynamic range sounds natural, and I like Staierís internal logic of narration-like expression, especially in extensive and complex Fantasia. Iím not sure what to make of the sound imaging Ė in MC the pianoforte sound is coming mainly from the front speakers, with some reverb from behind, but I couldnít pinpoint the instrument itself anywhere in the room. As if I was sitting under the lid with the music coming from all directions. Having said that, the recording is very natural in focus, but Iím still not sure about the perspective. Like with many other solo-piano recordings, I prefer to listen to it from a side, not in the Ďhot seat'.

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Review by dbp December 11, 2003 (3 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
To my knowledge, this is currently the only fortepiano performance available on SACD. It would be nice if we could get the complete Mozart piano Sonatas on SACD, or better yet some of the Mozart or Beethoven piano concertos, performed on original instruments, on SACD, but for now this will do. Andreas Staier is fairly well known to me. I have several other performances of him on harpsichord (where he's a mad man), but this was the first fortepiano piece I've heard of his. This is the first disc he has released under a new contract with Harmonia Mundi, so hopefully there will be more SACDs of him to come in the future (maybe the rest of the Sonatas?) The early selections here are not the best of the Sonatas, but the later half of the disc really picks up the pace. Staier's playing is certainly inspired, with much ornamentation present throughout. He makes some of the slower works quite interesting with his orients.

I compared this disc with my previous favorite performance of these works by Malcolm Bilson. Staier's performance is more ornamented, but I think it's lacking a bit in dynamics. Bilson's performance may have more emotional ups and downs than Staier's, though the latter's is constantly exciting. There isn't much "forte" in Staier's fortepiano, with most of the recording being about the same volume and intensity. Bilson's performance startled me in some places with its dynamic changes, which is always fun. I think this just has to do with the micing of the recording. Speaking of which, one thing that really bothers me about this SACD is the micing... or perhaps it's just the instrument that he's playing. In any case, you can really hear the keyboard during certain passages. At least I assume that's what it is. It's a rather bizarre sound. At first I thought it was crackling in the recording! But it's certainly some artifact coming from the instrument itself. What it sounds like is keys rubbing together, but that's just my interpretation of the sound. Who knows what it is... towards the end I was able to get passed it, though. This sound is more present on the SACD layer than the CD layer.

Overall, though, this recording kills the Bilson one. The fortepiano sounds so crisp, very clean, and very pure, with very sweet placement. The fortepiano sounds so beautifly smooth. The only problem with the recording is it's slight lacking in dynamics and the keyboard noise. Other than that, it's perfect. It's really an amazing sounding disc. The cd layer is great as well, but when you switch over to SACD things really open up. I'm fairly new to SACD and this was a disc I wanted to demo SACD for myself since it's just one instrument that I'm quite familiar with hearing in person. The SACD layer really shows how impressive SACD can be in its realism. After listening to this disc on SACD, it was seriously hard to listen to the Bilson cd even to compare the merits of the performance. The sound quality presented on this SACD is just fantastic.


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Works: 6  

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - 10 Variations in G major on "Unser dummer Pobel meint", K. 455
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Fantasia in C minor, K. 475
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Kleine Gigue for Keyboard in G major, K. 574
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Piano Sonata No. 14 in C minor, K. 457
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Piano Sonata No. 4 in E flat major, K. 282/189g
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Suite in C major for Keyboard, K.399/385i