Duo Cristofori, the pairing of American fortepianists Penelope Crawford and Nancy Garrett, does not play (at least here) the pianos of the originator of the instrument, Bartolomeo Cristofori. They do, however, play historical instruments, pianos in the style of Mozart's time: copies of 1790s Walter instruments by builders John Lyon and Paul McNulty. These sound slightly different from each other; one has greater percussive intensity, and the other is and that's all to the good in this complete survey of Mozart's music for two pianos. Mozart did not write a lot of music for two pianos, largely because he was rarely in a situation where there were two pianos available. His major work in the medium was the Sonata for two pianos in D major, K. 448, an ambitious sonata that treats the two pianos equally and explores a dazzling range of relationships between them. It's a true duo-virtuoso work with a barn-burner of a finale, and Duo Cristofori effectively exploits the differing timbres of the two pianos. The set of complete music for two pianos by Mozart was long thought to encompass only the sonata and the Fugue in C minor, K. 426, here given an attractively rough reading; in general Crawford and Garrett stress the fortepiano's percussive quality, which indeed must have surprised listeners used to the harpsichord. The list of Mozart works in the medium is extended by the Larghetto and Allegro in E flat major, K. deest, once removed from the catalog of authentic Mozart works but later restored after a partial autograph was located. An early completion of the work exists, but it is offered here in a superior one by Mozart scholar Robert Levin. The only quibble here concerns the sound, recorded in a Texas church; it's chilly, hollow, and entirely unevocative of the 18th-century drawing rooms for which this music was intended. Left unclear is how the recording, made in 1994, took 19 years to hit the market, but many listeners will wish it had been part of the dialogue earlier.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Sonata for 2 pianos in D major, K. 488|