October 26, 2020
Classical Music Sentinel reviews Orli Shaham's Mozart Sonatas Vol.1

WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART - Piano Sonatas Vol. 1 - Orli Shaham (Piano) - 8921180014026 - Released: October 2020 - Canary Classics CC19
Piano Sonata No. 3 in B-flat Major, K.281
Piano Sonata No. 13 in B-flat Major, K.333
Piano Sonata No. 17 in B-flat Major, K.570

State of Mind: When you consider that less than 1% of the reviews on this website are dedicated to recordings of the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791), it would be fair for you to deduce that I don't hold his music in high regard, and your conclusion would be right. I've always considered Mozart to be a pettifogging composer, more concerned with trivial and repetitive details than substance, and have never understood the designation of 'genius' attached to his name (I can imagine the nasty email messages coming my way now). But hey, this is my very own subjective opinion, just like the person who once told me that the music of Gustav Mahler, who happens to be 'my' favorite composer, was nothing more than artificial histrionics. It doesn't mean that I don't appreciate outstanding musicianship when I hear it.

State of Play: This multi-disc recording journey of all the Mozart piano sonatas by pianist Orli Shaham for Canary Classics began over a year ago. Volumes 2 and 3 are slated for release sometime in 2021. If her name sounds familiar it's because she is the sister of acclaimed violinist Gil Shaham who released many fine recordings for Deutsche Grammophon before establishing his own record label Canary Classics. Her playing is defined by expressive and varied phrasing, always convinced of where it's leading. She even makes Mozart's overuse of the Alberti bassline sound fresh and nuanced rather than a drudgery. And best of all is how she avoids the common pitfall of painting Mozart's portrait as a dainty child prodigy, and instead brings out his free and youthful spirit, an essential feature of his melodic lines.

State of Affairs: With the ongoing social distancing and isolation protocols plaguing all of us this year, it's been particularly difficult on performing artists who need an audience in order to not only thrive but to survive. Which in turn makes it hard for classical music enthusiasts to seek out and hear new music. To counteract this predicament Orli Shaham has, since March of this year, presented a performance on every Wednesday of individual movements from these Sonatas, on her own YouTube channel in a series called Midweek Mozart. Take a look for yourself here.

Jean-Yves Duperron - October 2020

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