International Record Review

When welcoming “On Reflection”, the CD of Mozart music for two pianos played by Anthony Goldstone and Caroline Clemmow (reviewed in March 2007), I little thought that I should so soon be reviewing a Mozart recital for solo keyboard, all the pieces completed and/or realised by Goldstone. This programme is quite fascinating, with its inclusion of isolated movements, almost all of which were more or less fully sketched and then shelved by Mozart. Some of these pieces may sound familiar; all of them , even the briefest, are of great interest.

Goldstone places before the listener two full Sonatas, one in F major, the other in G minor, constructed from fragments that he sensed could be persuaded to belong together in a convincing way. A Praeludium and some dances (not played consecutively here) suggest a Baroque suite; two extended sonata fragments are in this form well able to stand as independent movements, and there is a thoughtful, profound Fantasia in D minor, K385g/K397, probably dating from around 1782. Mozart left a substantial 107 bars of the work. Completion has been essayed in the past by many hands; here the challenge is very successfully met by Goldstone. As good an example as any of his skill at entering Mozart’s mind is the F major Sonata he has conjured into being, formed from fragments of disparate origins and perhaps of date too, that he spins out in a manner to convince this listener at least that the whole exercise was thoroughly worthwhile; it provides real satisfaction – doubtless for the player as well as for an initially perhaps sceptical audience, and even more for the arranger himself.

Much the same can be said about the other works performed here. Long immersion in Mozart’s unfinished compositions for keyboard has enabled Goldstone to feel the potential of the relationship between fragmentary movements in the same or related key that might once have been intended to belong together. The G minor Sonata he has fashioned goes further, in having as finale an extensive remodelling of the Theme and Variations in G major, K502. for piano duet. It works.

A major benefit to the issue is the detailed and highly informative essay that Julian Rushton has written for the booklet. He is perceptive in all he says about the Mozart fragments, their likely date and purpose and the way they have been treated by Goldstone for presentation here. The only additional information I would have welcomed is of the printed (or even manuscript) sources of some of the more recondite pieces.

The playing is unfailingly thoughtful, undemonstrative, observant of the varying stylistic demands. Tempos are convincingly chosen, though in rapid movements passages with the smallest note values are sometimes smudged. Slow movements are poised, by turns lyrical, poignant or more dramatic, and the music in dance meters is neatly phrased. The recordings, which were made in a church acoustic, entirely lack the often encountered drawbacks of such a location; the sound is fresh, clear and free of the excessive resonance familiar from numerous recordings made in empty churches. This is a fascinating and significant issue.

—Peter Branscombe