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Gottlieb Wallisch - Mozart in Vienna - The Consort


01 June 2011
The Consort
Martin Jones

It is fascinating to hear the piano music that Mozart composed during his last ten years in Vienna, from 1781 until his death in 1791, played by a Viennese pianist of about the same age. Gottlieb Wallisch has appeared at renowned international festivals, including our own Newbury Spring Festival, and broadcasts regularly on radio in many countries.

By concentrating on Mozart's Vienna years, when he was breaking free from the patronage that had supported him, in order to seek his own success with the Viennese public, Wallisch has assembled a varied programme of piano styles: the last two sonatas (K750 and K576), a Fantasy (K397), a Rondo (K511) and a set of variations (K455) on an operatic aria of Gluck.

The recital was recorded in St George's, Bristol: an acoustic which allows Wallisch's expressive playing space to breathe without losing intimacy. His excellent programme notes in the CD booklet explain, in English and in German, the historical context of each piece and, particularly in the case of the two sonatas, their significant position in Mozart's creative development.

Mozart wrote almost half of his compositions for piano during this decade in Vienna. Commenting on the two sonatas, no.17 in B flat major (K570) and no.18 in D major (K576), Wallisch observes that these two late works illustrate the concern of late 18th-century composers to achieve an integration between the earlier polyphonic style of keyboard writing, with its complex counterpoint, and the contemporary galant style.

In 1782, Mozart's Viennese friend, Gottfried van Swieten, had introduced the young composer to the works of Bach and Handel, and Mozart continued to study them. The results of his study of these great baroque masters can be seen in sonata no.17, in which Mozart develops the thematic material of the first movement in double counterpoint, while sonata no.18 resembles a Bach suite in its two-part texture. Thus, towards the end of his life, Mozart achieved an integration of older and newer styles of keyboard composition.


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