Mozart; Clementi_Piano works
Aldo Ciccolini, now an elder statesman of the piano, has for long been associated with the music of his adopted France, of Saint-Saëns, Debussy, Ravel and Satie. For some his lightweight approach to, say, César Franck was ‘as refreshing as a breath of fresh air in a hothouse of geraniums’, while for others (in Gramophone) his way with Debussy was ‘too brightly lit, stated rather than suggested’.
Even so, such point-counter-point hardly prepares us for the depth and seriousness of the present recital, in which Ciccolini erases much of his former debonair self and opts for playing of a notable depth and drama. In Mozart’s C minor Fantasia and Sonata, K475 and 457, he makes the supposed division between Mozart’s Apollonian and Beethoven’s Dionysian genius erroneous. Nothing is glossed, everything is considered, and in the Sonata’s storming finale his measured tempo somehow gives added substance to the music’s C minor intensity. His way with Clementi, too, reminds you of a fiercely original and uncompromising voice (a quality that greatly appealed to Horowitz) and it is only in Mozart’s F major Sonata, K332, that the playing becomes strenuous, making you long for a greater sense of texture, for that light and shade inseparable from Mozart. The finale is, however, enviably robust and this absorbing issue, crowned with a charming interview, is excellently recorded and decorated with vivid art work by Alexis Arno.