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Mozart Complete Sonatas for Keyboard and Violin, volume 1
Gary Cooper fortepiano (Walter 1795/Adlam, 1987)
Rachel Podger violin (Pesarinius 1739)

Sonata in G Major KV 379
Sonata in C Major KV 6
Sonata in F Major KV 547
Sonata in B flat Major KV 378

Channel Classics CCS-SA-21804 [77 mins]

This release inaugurates an important series for followers of period instrument performance of standard classics. These artists will record the entire sonatas of Mozart, including those by the 14 year old genius with simple violin parts with which his father accompanied him on the violin.

The title terminology is correct and apt, and it is displays a major ignorance that the messy cover photo shows Gary Cooper small and blurred in the distance! Nevertheless, this recording is worth acquiring because these are two of the best baroque musicians in the flourishing business, and this is a good starter, with several familiar pieces and the early, four movement KV 6 in C major as a likely novelty for most listeners.

The performances by Cooper and Podger sound committed and satisfying and the series will provide and important new perspective on Mozart in the 21st century. Historical background about the family's 'grand tour of Europe' is provided, but only a few words about the music.

Recording formats are multiplying in growing confusion and many of us, including reviewers, can't afford new equipment to benefit from the latest technical magics. I have almost given up writing about recording quality because CDs can sound so different - and produce a significantly different aesthetic and emotional effect - on different machinery, and too there is now a lot of control potential for listeners (things have moved on since I had owned a state-of-the-then-art amplifier which had no volume control because, so Quad claimed, the volume level was set at the point of recording and was therefore non-negotiable).

This disc comes with impressive technical credits and is said to be compatible with all CD players, but it doesn't work on my computer, whose Harmon Kardon speakers give me probably the all round best reference listening of all the players in my home, of their varying ages and fi-height!


© Peter Grahame Woolf