The programme assembled for this recital by Anthony Goldstone and Caroline Clemmow includes Mozart’s solitary completed Sonata for Two Pianos, a bold attempt by Goldstone to form a second complete sonata from materials abandoned by Mozart, and three pieces revised for two pianos: the Overture to The Magic Flute as arranged (once or twice I thought ‘deranged’) by Busoni, the G major Sonata for solo piano, K283/K189h, with second keyboard part added by Grieg, and the extraordinary C minor Adagio and Rondo, written during what was to prove Mozart’s last summer, and scored for the surely unique combination of armonica, flute, oboe, viola and cello. Anyone who has experienced the aethereal timbres of the armonica can hardly help feeling disappointed by even such a sensitively played interpretation on two pianos; the magic of the musical glasses lives on in the mind of anyone who has heard it (even if as played recently by a young Russian musician in a square in Venice, with CDs for sale on the spot!). Set against two grand pianos, the well-loved old versions o K.617 by Bruno Hoffmann with Mozart’s original scoring are as poetry compared with prose.
As their recitals and earlier recordings have made clear, Goldstone and Clemmow are a talented duo, able to immerse themselves both in their own lines and in those of their partner. The choices of tempo, dynamic contrast and phrasing carry quiet conviction, though in places their ensemble is less than ideally precise in over-rapid passage-work (as in the first movement of K448), deftly as they in general anticipate and echo each other. The instruments used are not identified in the booklet; they balance each other well.
Goldstone’s note, ‘Mozart on Reflection’, is an interesting and witty introductory essay, but it’s all too coy about the music he has taken as his starting point for the Sonata for Two Pianos in B flat, which he has realized from Mozart sketches that probably date form early 1782, a few months after the completion of the D major Sonata, K448. The opening movement of the newly constructed piece is based on the Grave and Presto, Köchel Appendix 42 (375b), which as left by Mozart consist of 8 and 43 bars respectively; for its finale, Goldstone takes as his starting-point the 16-bar opening of Appendix 43 (375c) and builds from it an extended and structurally quite sound movement. The source of the gently contemplative Larghetto, a perfectly satisfactory middle movement to the new/old work, is the 35-bar-long exposition that Maximilian Stadler was the first to bring to a performable whole at the request of Constanze Mozart, along with a completion of K375c.
This is a valuable release, with fine recorded quality except for a rather narrow perspective, and it should certainly appeal to loves of later arrangements, and especially anyone wanting to get to grips with the fascinating sketched two-piano movements on which, as so often, Mozart gave up – not because of their inferiority or intractability, but usually owing to the pressure to finish commissioned works, surely with the intention to return to then when time and opportunity permitted.