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Mozart Complete Piano Concertos

Viviana Sofronitzki (forte piano and harpsichord)
Linda Nicholson (forte piano) in K242, K365
Mario Aschauer (forte piano) in K242
Musicae Antiquae Collegium Varsoviense/Tadeusz Karolak



rec. Warsaw, December 2004-March 2006 - See full details of contents from musicweb-international

- - knocks the competition out of the box - - [Laurence Vittes, 2007]

3 Forte pianos by Paul McNulty [R]

- - for the concertos, in my book Malcolm Bilson has no peer in the huge Mozart discography. His recordings with John Eliot Gardiner are reissued in a no-nonsense compact box, 9 individual slip-cases with a very full 112 page fully illustrated booklet, with a wide range of essays by experts.

The particular virtue of these recordings is the true balance achieved by engineer Karl-August Naegler who does not attempt to disguise the quietness of the solo instruments (Walter/Belt and Walter/Adlam) as against the orchestra.
[2007, PGW]

With this set from Poland belatedly come my way, I now have three complete sets of the Mozart piano concertos, two of them on period fortepianos which are much to be preferred; both admirable and conveniently boxed.

The latest uses Walter copy instruments made by Paul McNulty and played by Viviana Sofronitzki, his partner. The orchestra, the Early Instruments Ensemble of the Warsaw Chamber Opera, has taken part in many baroque revivals under the direction of Tadeusz Karolak.

This set is even more "complete", with all the juvenile works based on J.C. Bach. The booklet pays us the compliment of being written entirely in English. And a very nice touch is that each disc carries a different session photo [L].

It is enjoyable throughout and an obvious recommendation for anyone who doesn't have the Bilson/Gardiner.

I do not feel qualified to assess them comparatively.*

Both are available inexpensively; from Amazon.com the Bilson/Gardiner can be acquired for $34; Sofronitzki's from Amazon.co.uk at prices varying from £25 - £53.

Peter Grahame Woolf

Viviana Sofronitzki and Paul McNulty have an evening together at Wigmore Hall, 26 July, not to be missed.
She will be playing 5 new McNulty fortepianos, copies of original instruments by Stein, Walter, Graf, Pleyel & Boisselot.

The previous evening 25 July Viviana Sofronitski gave a preview on BBC R3 (In Tune) at 0:39 mins into the programme, with superb accounts of CPE Bach and the first movement of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata on a Walter/McNulty fortepiano; available on line for only a week.


* See review of the recording from Audiophile Audition

Seemingly out of nowhere comes a complete recording using original instruments of Mozart’s piano concertos that knocks the competition out of the box. It is extraordinarily fresh and alive, up on all the latest musicological evidence without ever making it sound affected or stylized (just stylish!), recorded in beautiful clear sound, and featuring an extraordinary pianist named Viviana Sofronitzki whose father was the great Russian virtuoso Vladimir Sofronitzki - - Sviatoslav Richter and Emil Gilels looked up to Sofronitzki as their master.

- - her performances are so exquisitely phrased, so understanding of the profoundly relationship between line and phrasing that Mozart’s seemingly simple writing implies, so rich with poetry and yet lacking not an ounce of dramatic muscle and virtuosic display where necessary, that it is if the music were coming straight from the composer’s heart and head to these eleven CDs.

Sofronitzki plays the cadenzas as if they were absolutely spontaneous, and the ones she supplies where Mozart left none, are illuminating miracles of charm and invention - - she ornaments sparingly, but always at just the right, unguarded and vulnerable time. The orchestra is with her every step and every breath of the way - - Also starring in this amazing achievement is a fortepiano made specially by Paul McNulty for the Mozart Festival in Warsaw. - - Viviana Sofronitzki’s Mozart cycle is an extraordinary achievement - - acquire the complete set - which may well be a limited edition - without delay. -- Laurence Vittes