CD review: Bezuidenhout’s Mozart vols 8 & 9

First published in the Guardian on 14 January, 2016

Kristian Bezuidenhout (Harmonia Mundi)

The final instalments of Kristian Bezuidenhout’s Mozart cycle are as stylish as the previous seven volumes: bold, sensitive playing that defines the South African as the fortepianist of his generation. He opens Volume 8 with the ultra familiar Sonata in C major, K 545 — anyone who studied piano will remember hammering it out in exams — but these volumes also feature obscurities like the parody Kleiner Trauermarsch K 453a and the single-movement fragments K 312 and K 400 in reconstructions by 20th century fortepiano trailblazer Robert Levin. The appeal of the latter might be limited but no matter: Bezuidenhout could find the spirit in a C-major scale. Articulation sparkles and ornaments are neat; slow movements sing like arias and he has fun giving chunky weight to the Rondo themes. Virtuosity buzzes under the surface but never becomes the focal point. Playing a modern keyboard — a Czech copy of an 1805 Viennese instrument — the sound is sweet, nutty and declamatory. Above all, Bezuidenhout knows how to make a fortepiano sing.