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  Philips Classics -
  475 6199
  Mozart: Piano Sonatas - Brendel
  Mozart: Piano Sonata in B flat major K.281, Piano Sonata in E flat major K.282, Piano Sonata in D major K.576, Fantasia in C minor K.396

Alfred Brendel (piano)
Track listing:
  Classical - Instrumental
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Related titles: 4

Reviews: 3

Review by joserfg June 10, 2005 (6 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
After only 20 seconds, I was so amazed with the sound of this recording in multichannel that I switched to stereo. The difference was so big that it is difficult to believe considering it is a piano solo recording (and it did not seem only a matter of volume). Usually, the difference between stereo and MC is so small (in classical recordings) that many times I think they sell us three times the same thing. Not this time.

The next thing I did was to go into to see the reviews.

I can understand the sonic rating of the previous review, but in MC I think it deserves 5 stars (or more…).

I have more that 70 MC classical recordings and this is the one that has caused to me the biggest impression (sonic wise). Enough to make me write my first review.

On the musical side… this is pure Bredel.

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Review by mwagner1962 May 27, 2005 (4 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Well, as a long time fan of Alfred Brendel (especially when he plays Beethoven) I bought this SACD. As much as I enjoy his Beethoven, I like his Mozart as well, as he shows an excellent knowledge of the music. Another Mozart master I like is Mitsuko Uchida (though I do not yet know if any of her Mozart Piano Concerto or solo piano recordings are available on SACD). His command of the keyboard is very evident here and he plays with his usual aplomb.

I am going to have to be just a little negative about the quality of this recording. It is not the over all sound with the piano per say (which is closely miked yet has a good deal of transparency, rather), it is the extreme sense of hall ambiance that we get here. To me the hall sounds like a very large and VERY empty venue. I mean, there is a lot of echo in the hall that is almost distracting. I wonder why the Phillips team simply didn't offer a few hundred Vienna Phil concert patrons a few beers to get them to come in and act as some acoustical baffling.

If you like lots of hall ambiance, then you will likely enjoy this recording. If you do not like loads of hall ambiance, then you might consider looking elsewhere for Mozart piano music on SACD. Please understand, that my issue here is simply the excessive amount of hall sound, not an issue with the playing.


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Review by Beagle December 4, 2006 (4 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I ran into an old friend in our favourite old bricks-and-mortar CD store, and asked what he'd been listening to. "Uchida playing Mozart's piano sonatas" was the reply. That brought back fond memories: A decade ago when an aunt of my wife lent us her lovely japanese-style house on an island, I repaid the favour with a pair of Uchida/Mozart discs, and the aunt said she was well repaid. Nice stuff, that Uchida. I have her Mozart Violin Sonatas with Mark Steinberg on Philips SACD, and that's a splendid disc.

--But back to the record-store: in their small SACD section, I saw that constipated-looking photo of Brendel peeping out, the one that was mentioned on the 'Atrocious SACD Cover Caption Competition' thread, and so I grabbed it, saying to my friend "I'll get this and see how it compares with Uchida."

There are more funny pictures of Brendel in the liner notes -- he's a funny guy in interviews -- but (in stereo at least) the disc isn't amusing. First I listened to it on its own several times. My first perception was that the soundspace was non-existent*: there are no walls, floor or ceiling. As Gertrude Stein said of Oakland California, "There is no 'there' there". My second reaction was to Brendel's fingering of the ivories: It's flawless, it's smooth, but it's as flat as Nebraska. I have a few other Brendel discs against which I have no complaints. I'm listening to his Schubert Wandererfantasie right now, and it's animated enough.

And so I put on Uchida. She hit me like a banned substance! Speed isn't everything, but it is noteworthy that Uchida does KV281 in 13:44, while Brendel takes 14:46. Every note from Uchida seems possessed of demonic life, and thus she creates a musical landscape as three-dimensional as the Rocky Mountains. Definitley invigorating, but not to the point of being forced or mannered. If all performances were like hers, no-one would ever put Mozart on the 'over-rated' list.

Dear Mitsuko, please produce some more SACDs!

*I note that where I hear a lack of space, mwagner hears too much empty auditorium echo, but neither of us likes what he hears.

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Works: 4  

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Fantasia in C minor, K. 396/385f
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Piano Sonata No. 18 in D major, K. 576
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Piano Sonata No. 3 in B flat major, K. 281/189f
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Piano Sonata No. 4 in E flat major, K. 282/189g