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Daniel Barenboim, Glenn Gould, Horowitz, Mozart, piano
October 8, 2016
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Horowitz plays it in a romantic style, Gould in a baroque style and Barenboim in a classical style.
So, which is correct?
Results will vary. I want everyone to make up his or her own mind.
It would have been a hugely shocking surprise if VH did not play this piece in highly Romantic style, as it would be for GG not to employ a few Baroque-oriented touches and techniques (albeit using all tonal resources of a “modern” concert grand including a considerable amount of sustaining pedal), and for DB not to keep it close to what we came to recognize as Classical manner which i suspect does not have much more in common with the way it really sounded during Mozart’s lifetime than do the other two approaches. Is determining one “correct” way really the point here? All three are among the most outstanding pianists of the last hundred years and i consider us lucky to be able to enjoy such brilliant yet different interpretations of great music performed on such high level of playing quality. Preferences, if any, depend in large part of what each listener’s own favorite style is.
Sounds reasonable, and yet there may be more. The “singing” quality of Mozart’s melodies has often been remarked upon, though some of the melodies in this piano sonata might not be as vocal as some of his others. But for me, Horowitz captures this vocal quality quite well, and Gould not at all. At the same time, there is the architecture of the piece, and Horowitz lets it meander in places … beautifully perhaps, but meandering all the same. Barenboim is best with the form, IMO.
You have certainly made a good point about the singing aspect of Mozart’s melodies. On the other hand however, most of his solo piano music including this sonata is also remarkable for its uniquely Mozartean brand of simplicity/purity/innocence, and that quality is much better revealed in GG’s version. As fine and as “correct” as DB’s reading undoubtedly is, i personally prefer listening to the other two because their interpretations are so inimitable in the most positive sense of the word.
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