Mozart: Piano Sonatas, Volume 1 – Sonata No 6 in D major, K284 (Dürnitz); Fantasia No 3 in D minor, K397; Sonata No 17 in B flat major, K570; Sonata No 2 in F major, K280

Reviewed on Thu 21 Feb, 2019

The free-ranging K280 Second is delicately contained in playing of virtuosic gracefulness with a melting Adagio at its heart.

Immediately apparent in Peter Donohoe’s all too belated engagement with Mozart on disc is a light, liquescent lyricism shot through with moments of fragile, lambent beauty and a governing subtlety and sensitivity of expression that calls to mind, curiously, but satisfyingly, Claudio Arrau’s Chopin. This first volume of five surveying the complete piano sonatas finds Donohoe focusing on early treasures. The free-ranging K280 Second is delicately contained in playing of virtuosic gracefulness with a melting Adagio at its heart, the Sixth (K284) gratifyingly expansive yet dignified under Donohoe’s lithe fingers and lit up by telling contrasts. Equally pleasing is the brittle poise of the limpid Adagio of No 17 (K570) and the balletic brio of its finale while the peristaltic ebb and flow between light and dark of the K397 Third Fantasia is exquisitely articulated. Throughout, Donohoe’s nimble and fleet-fingered but acutely precise playing makes his beautifully recorded, glass-like Bechstein ring with harpsichord brightness. Christopher Morley’s informative notes describe both context and content with eloquent insight.
–Michael Quinn