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Mozart the Progressive - Wessel

Mozart the Progressive - Wessel

Ars Produktion  ARS 38 347

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Instrumental


Mozart: Piano Sonatas 15, 17 & 18, Gigue, Menuet

Michael Wessel (piano)

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Review by Adrian Quanjer - August 18, 2023

With this release, Michael Wessel has reached Mozart’s 18th and last Piano Sonata. However, ARS Produktion assure me that it is not the final one, as indeed the first 9 Sonatas are still missing. There will be three more volumes to come and the recording of the next is scheduled for March 2024. A long-haul exercise, therefore. But one’s patience will no doubt be rewarded with a fine and complete set of 6 volumes of ‘Sonatas & Variations’, surely if the quality of both playing and recording will be the same as thus far realised.

Moreover, with this current volume, no disk space has been wasted as we get an extra Gigue in G major KV 574 and a Minuet in D major KV355 (567B), both fitting in perfectly with the chosen motto: ‘Mozart the Progressive’. What? Was Mozart progressive? An interesting thought. In his capacity as a music teacher, Wessel clearly has acquired a more elaborated opinion about Mozart’s compositional heritage than that of a composer of mere ‘Spieldosenmusik’, as he characterized his piano sonatas at the time he was admitted to the Musikhochschule Detmold.

In a previous album: Mozart: Piano Sonatas 10-12 - Wessel, he highlighted the poetical side of the composer; here he shares his views about Mozart’s forward-looking piano sonatas. In his personal notes in the booklet, Michael Wessel advances the thesis that “the last three great Mozart sonatas are no less a legacy and a guide to the future of music than those of Beethoven and Schubert”. This opens an interesting door to interpretative exploration of these sonatas, which Wessel “hopes to support with this album”.

True to his professional tasks, Wessel is on the one hand meticulously conveying the score, but at the same time anticipating and uncovering the gist of Beethoven’s three sonatas Op. 2. It sheds an illuminating perspective on this ongoing survey.

I can get along with much of Wessel’s ideas, going even a step further by saying that not only his piano sonatas but also some of the rest of Mozart’s oeuvre carry forward-looking and even pre-romantic expressions, like in the Second Movement -Larghetto- of his Quintet for Clarinet and Strings KV 581.

Who is not familiar with Tchaikovsky’s Suite No. 4 The Mozartiana, partly based (the first two movements) on the Gigue in G and the Menuet in D major? Is that sufficient proof of Mozart looking forward or, cynically, Tchaikovsky looking backwards? Whichever of the two, it is proof of Mozart delivering useful material for even a late-romantic composer. Much food for thought, owing to Michael Wessel’s thought-provoking Mozart cycle for which there is, thus far, no real competition in Super Audio and of which there is still more to come.

All we may hope for is that the next three volumes will follow with not so much time in between.

Blangy-le-Château, Normandy, France.

Copyright © 2023 Adrian Quanjer and HRAudio.net

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Comment by Dominique MAGNIER - August 18, 2023 (1 of 1)

I got the 2 first volumes and they are a real pleasure... and so well recorded !

Michael Wessel plays a "Bosëndorfer 280 Vienna" in a very good acoustic (Immanuel Kirche in Wuppertal) ;-)
It is the complete Mozart's sonatas I waited so long !!
Dominique