Cause for great celebration here. Federico Colli is a massively talented young pianist, and Chandos' choice of him to record their complete Mozart works for solo piano is inspired. We get a hint the “investment” is a good one before we hear a note: the great Fantasia in C-Minor (K 475), usually umbilically linked to the C-Minor Sonata, is here presented on a disc of primarily Fantasias; the only sonata is that which concludes the disc, and that's the B flat-Major, K 333. Here's a vdieo by Colli around this first piece, the C-Minor Fantasie: (it's very imaginative, Colli is very funny and informative so is definitely recommended!)
Hearing the C-Minor Fantasie end with those ascending scales and then not hearing the pure octaves of the C-Minor Sonata but instead the tender strains of the Adagio in C for glass harmonica (played on the piano, K 356) is revelatory - as if we are transported to some higher plane.
The Fantasia in C Minor, K 396 might be less familiar - this is a completion by Maximillian Stadler (1748-1833) of a fragment for violin and piano. When it was first published, in Vienna in 1803, the score omitted the violin, and that is what is played here. Piano geeks might find this next video interesting to compare with Colli's Chandos recording of thsi piece on this disc: the YouTube video is recorded on a warmer Bechstein as opposed to teh Chandos Steinway (and Bechstein's presence in the UK is growing, what with the recently opened Manchester flagship store and the planned London venue):
Fascinating to hear how Colli conveys the quasi-improvsational manner of these pieces, and in this C-Minor finds real depth. Mozart's admiration of, and study of, Bach's music was clearly important in thse works
There are in fact three completions on this disc: there folows a Menuett in D, K 355 (again completed by Stadler) with some interesting and somewhat daring dissonances.
It was August Eberhard Müller (1767-1807) who completed the D-Minor Fantasie, K 397. Like the C-Minor, this has gained much popularity; it is easy to hear how, with its sighing appoggiaturas and marked contrasts. Colli's performance is magnificent: he understands the Affekt of the piece perfectly and is able to project that via teh medium of a modern concert grand (now easy task). Colli's harmonic sensitivity is wonderful, the “harmonic “clearing” into a place of rest and radiance at around five minutes is a moment of pure magic and revelation. Here‘s the performance on this Chandos disc:
Two “pure“ Mozart pieces close the disc. His tand-alone Rondos get too mcuh short shrift in my opinion, so it is good to hear the charming D-Major Rondo, K 485. It is actually cast in sonata form with one theme (so there is no distinct second subject); Colli's performance seems so knowing. A strange word perhaps, but it sums up the rightness of this performance:
Finally, the beautiful B flat-Major Sonata, K 333, exquisitely sculpted. Pianists and/or piano connoisseurs will be able to appreciate the evenness of Colli's left hand and the way he makes everything count, and yet every not has its considered place. The result is a performance of grace and, in the development section of the first movement, a real spirit of exploration:
The daringly bare textures of the slow movement need true maturity to succeed and that's what we have here:
The trajectory of the finale from simpleto conplex is well tracked by Colli; pianists will drool at the evenness of his repeated notes while musicians of any ilk will similarly salivate at the sharm of the very next phrase.
Expert notes by Michael O'Loughlin complete a most auspicious beginning to Colli's series. As a label, Chandos appears to be on fire at the moment, at least as far as Mozart is concerned, what with Francesca Dego's recordings ... but to be clear (and to give Colli's performances the last word), this is some of the finest Mozart on the piano I have heard in many a moon.