A real pleasure.
Charlotte Gardner 2009-03-27
This is a first recording from Baroque violinist Petra Mullejans and the young South African pianist Kristian Bezuidenhout, but they've been making music together for a number of years now, both as a chamber duo and within the Freiburger Barockorchester (of which Mullejans is leader, soloist, chamber musician and an artistic director). It shows, as a significant part of this ear-grabbing recording's success is due to the musical familiarity and interpretational understanding that these two evidently share.
Improvisation and spontaneity are the name of the game with this musical programme. It illustrates far more eloquently than any biography could the frenetic pace of Mozart’s life during his mid twenties: the sort of musical material he was required to produce, how he wrote it and, as this is a period instrument performance, how it may have sounded. The recital opens with the deeply expressive Sonata K.454 in B flat major from 1784, followed by Sonata K.379 in G major from 1781. Mozart was so rushed when composing them that both had to be performed with incomplete piano parts. However, as a popular attraction of Mozart's high-profile concerts would have been some improvised variations or the like, flying by the seat of his musical pants would have been all in a day's work. Appropriate, then, to follow these sonatas with the Six Variations on ''au bord d'une fontaine'' K.360 of 1781, before rounding off with an earlier 1778 Sonata, K.296 in C major.
Mullejans and Bezuidenhout capture the improvisatory air of the programme in a vibrant, highly expressive performance. Their interpretation has a sense of volatility to it that engenders a marvellous hearing-it-for-the-first-time sensation. Furthermore, there emanates from this recording such a highly developed sense of artistic partnership that it doesn't feel like an exaggeration to say that they play as one, even as their parts weave in and out of each other. Another pleasure is the colour provided by the respective instruments, both the mellow sonority of Mullejans' violin, and the unequal temperament (Thomas Young A=430) of Bezuidenhout's fortepiano. A real pleasure.