Zeynep Ucbasaran has already recorded two CDs of Mozart. The
first had the Sonatas K.330 and K.457 plus the C minor and D minor
Fantasias and the Duport Variations (see review).
The second had the Sonatas Kk.533/494, 282 and 284 (see review).
I imagine that the idea of recording all the Sonatas only matured
in the wake of these, with the result that we now have a pair
of two-CD packs to finish the job: the present “Early Sonatas”
and one of “Late Sonatas” to be reviewed shortly. Meaning, of
course, “early” and “late” sonatas omitting those issued previously,
which makes the compilations a little haphazard if you buy just
one of them. Another upshot is that Ucbasaran’s cycle comes on
six CDs rather than the more usual five – the brisk and energetic
Lili Kraus manages with only four – and, of the five-CD rivals,
De Larrocha for instance also includes the two Fantasias plus
the two Rondos.
so, on the strength of the present album I’d sooner hear Ucbasaran.
In the opening movement of K.279 she strikes a measured tempo,
but one that allows Mozart’s quite detailed staccatos and short
phrases to register. Nothing is hurried and nothing drags. It’s
all very fluid and natural. She plays the “Andante” with sufficient
freedom to bring it to life, but without turning it into Chopin.
The finale is again unhurried yet it bubbles with life.
the risk of seeming perfunctory, I’d be inclined to leave it
at that. As each movement starts, even if one expects a slightly
brisker tempo, Ucbasaran has a way of making it sound right.
The playing is throughout natural and unforced, with slow movements
particular highlights. I don’t always welcome second-half repeats
but when Ucbasaran embarked on those of K.281 and K.283 – only
those two, and only in slow movements – I was actually pleased
to hear the music again. In short, if you want to hear Mozart
on a modern Steinway in performances that allow the music to
speak without particular interference between you and the composer,
but without being prim or academic, you should be well pleased
with these two CDs.
would add the proviso that in the A minor, Ucbasaran emphasizes
pathos rather than drama. So if you want a proto-Beethovenian
approach – as, in some moods, I do myself – you won’t find it
here. Given the point of view, Ucbasaran’s performance is excellent.
In K.311 I did feel that the outer movements might have had
a little more brio. Again though, according to its own lights
the performance is carried off well.
small point. Ucbasaran’s insistence that trills shall not end
with a turn where one is not written is no doubt “right”. To
my – doubtless old-fashioned – ears it results in slightly inconclusive
endings to some of them. In truth, I see that quite a few of
these final turns, added editorially in my Peters edition, have
been crossed out in pencil by one of my former teachers, but
I’m afraid I’ve gone on playing them where the music seems to
me more beautiful that way. Evidently it doesn’t seem more beautiful
that way to Ucbasaran, and many will doubtless agree with her.
writes her own liner notes. This is not the first time I find
that in her writing, as in her playing, she seems a natural
recording venue – but not the team – has changed. I didn’t hear
the earlier issues again but the sound is now warmer than I
remember it. I suppose this disc hasn’t quite got me onto my
feet and raving, but I got real satisfaction from it. Total
satisfaction, I’d say, from five sonatas out of seven.