Franz Xaver Mozart: Polonaises mélancoliques, Opp 17 & 22; Chopin: 3 Polonaises

Reviewed on Wed 04 Oct, 2017

Franz Xaver is at his most assertive in third of the Op 17 set, and at his most expressive in the last of the set known as Op 22, the pathos here reminiscent of the young Beethoven and, inevitably, Mozart père.

Mozart’s son, Franz Xaver, and Frédéric Chopin were near-contemporaries, and the idea of pairing their Polonaises was an inspired one, especially as Yaara Tal is such a persuasive interpreter of all 13 works programmed. Mozart’s 10 Polonaises mélancoliques were written between 1811 and 1818. Franz Xaver is at his most assertive in third of the Op 17 set, and at his most expressive in the last of the set known as Op 22, the pathos here reminiscent of the young Beethoven and, inevitably, Mozart père. All this is particularly impressive when you consider that Mozart wrote them between the ages of 20 and 26. By contrast, Chopin was just eleven years old when he wrote the A flat Polonaise KK IVa No 2. The B flat minor work Les Adieux dates from five years later and quotes a melody from Rossini’s La gazza ladra. Yaara Tal poses the question: is it more than a quirk of fate that John Field, Chopin’s founding inspiration for his Nocturnes, had the same birthday as Franz Xaver Mozart “who may well have been Chopin’s guide on the path to the polonaise”? Food for thought, surely. These are attractive if largely undemanding pieces, the Mozart works in particular full of sincere feeling. Had they attracted the attention of some of the ‘greats’ of yesteryear, they may well have caught on before now.
–Rob Cowan