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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mozart complete piano sonatas: Schiff, Uchida or Eschenbach?, 21 May 2011
By 
A. Zona - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Mozart: The Piano Sonatas (Audio CD)
These are just few comparative comments on three sets of Mozart complete piano sonatas: Schiff (Decca), Uchida (Philips), Eschenbach (Deutsch Grammophon).

I got the Schiff collection (recorded 1980) about ten years ago and I have enjoyed it for a long time. These interpretations can be described as elegant, serene, delicate, yet they might appear at time somewhat bland and not entertaining as the other two sets are. The recorded sound is very good (analogue recordings beautifully remastered on CD) but it is annoying that the sonatas are presented in a random order, and not based on the catalogue number as in the other two sets.

I got the Uchida collection (recorded between 1983 and 1987) in 2004 after reading the recommendation from the Gramophone magazine. These interpretations can be described as joyous, very entertaining with generally fast tempi, precise in every detail and every single note clearly audible. Also in this case the recorded sound is quite good, even if a slightly less warm than the Decca set (digital recordings). Yet I had the feeling that in all this apparent perfection something was missing and often I was going back to Schiff.

Not totally satisfied by the interpretations from Schiff and Uchida, I finally got the Eschenbach collection (recorded between 1967 and 1970) after reading many positive reviews on the US Amazon website. At first I was disoriented by the different approach and tempi. But then I realized that this set is definitely the one I prefer. In my opinion more passionate, more musical, more natural, more variegated tempi with more fluency in the fast passages and more feeling in the slow moments, an higher dynamic range giving a beautiful insight into these compositions. The recorded sound is also quite good and beautifully remastered on CD.

Depending on your personal tastes you might like one set over the other two. I don't think there is a wrong choice as in any of these three sets you will for sure enjoy the beautiful Mozart piano sonatas. So I believe that these three sets deserve the maximum rating. Anyway, I have my favourite: Eschenbach.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Prim and Perfunctory, 18 July 2015
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This review is from: Mozart: The Piano Sonatas (Audio CD)
Three hypotheses come to mind as I contemplate this ultra-cautious, low-impact survey of Mozart’s piano sonatas by András Schiff.

Decidedly, they’re not mutually exclusive.

Not infrequently, I’ve spoken of Danny Barenboim’s sausage factory which churns out many a sausage in a proficient fashion where the end-product never falls below a certain standard even if it’s not memorable in itself. It gets the job and not much more. No-one likes monopolies. Yep, there’s a rival down the road who’s pumping out supermarket-grade sausages at a furious rate . . . . . . I wonder who it is.

In a similar vein, I often refer to Jeggy’s cult of brisk efficiency. Much to my horror, could it be that he has a counterpart of the keyboard?

Thirdly, what “Blue Steel” is to Derek Zoolander, the “Miss Marple’s School of Piano Playing” is to András Schiff. For those not in the know, “Miss Marple is an elderly spinster who lives in the village of St. Mary Mead and acts as an amateur consulting detective.” In such a dynamic, mojo is not a long suit.

Whatever hypothesis one runs with, here’s grist for the mill:

Exhibit One: Schiff’s feeble development in the first movement of K 310. It does not get any wimpier than this. I actually felt embarrassed for him. Check it out. It’s atrocious. And the finale is uneventful beyond words. For reasons best left unknown, Schiff pulls one punch after another.

Exhibit Two: Schiff’s tensionless Fantasia in K 475.

Exhibit Three: Schiff’s glorified sight-read of K 545. Does this music mean anything to him (and I could pose this question more widely of the set)? And would you like tomato sauce on that sausage?

Exhibit Four: Schiff’s K 332. It has notes aplenty but no music is audible to my antipodean ears. It connects with nothing; it signifies nothing; it’s low octane, carbon-neutral energy and not much more than that. It’s performances like these that incline me towards the Jeggy Hypothesis above.

Exhibit Five: Yes Virginia, even Ronda alla Turco can be an overly smooth, non-event lest it upsets Miss Marple’s afternoon nap. Is there a single percussive note on offer?

I will never re-visit this set - never. Uchida might be weak in key sonatas (such as K 310 and K 457) but she brings far more imagination (and identification) to bear on these creations than her Hungarian counterpart. Speaking of which, leave “Miss Marple” to nibble daintily on her sausages as she lies back and thinks of Jeggy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A set that will stand the test of time, always enjoyable., 21 Dec. 2014
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This review is from: Mozart: The Piano Sonatas (Audio CD)
I'm listening to this as a I type this review, and for me this is one of the most satisfying accounts of the Mozart sonatas I have in my collection. My "comparison benchmark" is Uchida on Philips and I find I alternate between these two artists and their recordings. The Schiff recordings reviewed here tend to win me over on the technical aspects of the recorded sound, warm and inviting. Uchida has what one may call the "Mozart magic" to her touch and interpretation but is recorded in a colder more clinical way.

I would unhesitatingly recommend the Schiff cycle here (but would add that any collector should also have the Uchida set as a companion)
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Schiff is the Mozart maestro, 17 Jun. 2005
This review is from: Mozart: The Piano Sonatas (Audio CD)
These under-rated piano sonatas and teaching-pieces need the touch of an expert to really shine. Schiff provides that in these recordings, his deft fingerwork pays off in every ornament and semiquaver. Mozart is more than elegance and grace, and Schiff makes the power of these works evident, especially in such black comedies as the great C minor fantasia.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Incomparable Mozart!, 29 Aug. 2014
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This review is from: Mozart: The Piano Sonatas (Audio CD)
These well loved keyboard masterpieces are played with wonderful delicacy, insight and wit by Andras Schiff. I have five sets of these sonatas but this, in my opinion, is the best of the bunch.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful execution but poor recording, 11 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: Mozart: The Piano Sonatas (Audio CD)
Wonderful execution by Andras Schiff, but the quality of the recording is very poor depsite the Decca label. It's a pity.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well it's Mozart..., 12 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: Mozart: The Piano Sonatas (Audio CD)
... so it was always going to wonderful. I'm not sure why other reviewers have said that the interpretation and recordings are below standard because, as far as I'm concerned, they are pretty close to perfect..
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