MOZART Violin Sonatas Vols 7 and 8
This issue completes Cooper’s and Podger’s collected recordings of Mozart’s music for keyboard and violin. At first sight, Volumes 7 and 8 might seem to consist of leftovers – Vol 8 devoted to a set of six sonatas (K10-15) written in London when Mozart was eight, and Vol 7, apart from the two variation sets composed shortly after he settled in Vienna, containing a sonata dating from his 1766 stay in The Hague, plus two fragments, completed after Mozart’s death by Maximilian Stadler. In the event, however, both CDs are full of interest.
For the “London” Sonatas, Cooper plays a fine-sounding Kirckman harpsichord dating from the exact period of Mozart’s English visit. With it he can make the most of the youthful virtuoso’s ebullient keyboard invention, the textures further enriched by the inclusion of the optional cello part. One may have some doubts about the complete authenticity of Mozart’s early sonatas (surviving manuscripts are in father Leopold’s hand), but in K13, for example, the startlingly elaborate opening movement, the plaintive minor-key Andante that follows and the extraordinary chromatic minuet all indicate an amazing emerging talent.
On the other disc, the K372 Allegro is given pride of place. Mozart left a sonata exposition that would have been the beginning of a magnificent work. If Stadler’s completion lacks a Mozartian sense of tonal architecture, its sound world is extremely convincing and provides a necessary context for the “genuine” music. Stadler completed K396 as a solo piano piece (the 27-bar fragment has only four bars of violin part). The result, in Cooper’s words, is “a most personal tribute”, and played here with much feeling and imagination.
Cooper and Podger perform the variations with typical verve; the many repeated sections provide opportunities for ornamentation, especially in K359, where Mozart obligingly indicates a pause – with the possibility of a mini cadenza – in each variation.
I find I don’t always agree with Cooper’s and Podger’s interpretation – exaggerated drawing-out of many of the minuets’ cadences, for instance – but it’s impossible to ignore the individuality, vitality and commitment of their performances.