Daria van den Bercken KEYS TO MOZART

To classify this Mozart release by Dutch pianist Daria van den Bercken might mean putting it under the heading of modern-piano interpretations influenced by the historical-performance movement. Van den Bercken herself says in her notes that although she comes "up against a wall" when she plays Mozart on a fortepiano, she admires and has been inspired by the work of fortepianist Malcolm Bilson and conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt. Her Mozart is sharply articulated and only lightly pedaled. On another level, though, her readings owe little to historically oriented performances. The "keys to Mozart" in the album title are pretty general (look to opera to understand Mozart's melodies), but van den Bercken's readings are individual and very finely wrought. The movements are sharply differentiated in a way atypical of fortepiano performances: note the unusual weight given the first two movements of the Piano Sonata in A major, K. 331, reducing the flashy Turkish rondo to a decorative finale. She does not seek power in the Fantasie in C minor, K. 396, but rather a reflective series of thoughts. In the "intellectual" kind of Mozart work, such as the mysterious Eine kleine Gigue in G major, K. 574, she is exceptional, building a structure of intense chromatic tension out of numerous small details of articulation. Van den Bercken's interpretations, really, are so personal that mileage may vary with them, but they have both precision and great originality. Sony's sound at the Beethovensaal in Hannover tries to compensate for the excessive size of the venue with close miking, with only intermittent success. (James Manheim)

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