Mozart: Piano Sonatas Vlado Perlemuter Primary Artist
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A French pianist of Lithuanian Jewish background, Vlado Perlemuter was one of the fine pianists of the middle twentieth century overshadowed by the emergence of the media-driven superstar. He survived, with difficulty, several years as a Jew in occupied France and lived until age 98 in 2002 and was active as a pianist for all but the last few years of his life. Known for his performances of the Romantics and French Impressionists, he wasn't a {|Mozart|} specialist, and these 1956 recordings, made at the Pathé studios in Paris, have been long forgotten; they weren't even among the standard items in the catalog of the Vox budget label that started the classical collections of so many people. This reissue and remastering by the American historical-recording label Musical Concepts offers a welcome rediscovery, not least for the witty and literate booklet notes by {|Nick Morgan|}. What he slightly and unfairly called the Dresden china view of Mozart was still in vogue when these recordings were made, and what's striking is how far Perlemuter diverges from it: in 1956 these recordings were nothing short of groundbreaking, and save for the hissy sound they could hold their own in today's marketplace. Perlemuter's style is vigorous and tending toward sharp contrasts without being overromanticized -- sinewy and crisp. His slow movements throughout are deeply expressive. In the early sonatas of a symphonic bent -- try the opening movement of the Piano Sonata in D major, K. 284, on CD 2, track 1 -- the pianistic counterparts of cello lines blare out clearly without overwhelming the general direction of the music, and the Fantasia in C minor, K. 475, and Piano Sonata in C minor, K. 457 (unfortunately divided between two discs), are good examples of dramatic performances that still keep the balance of Mozart's language in mind. Perlemuter has a way of pushing the tempo in the run-up to a cadence that gives many of the sonatas a noteworthy energy, although it disturbs the invention-like quality of the later works, especially the first movement of the Piano Sonata in F major, K. 533. Every sonata is treated individually, and the simple Piano Sonata in C major, K. 545, is taken very delicately rather than being forced to conform to the ideas of the rest of the set. A nice find for historical-recording enthusiasts or for any aspiring performer of Mozart's keyboard music.

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