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Christian Blackshaw’s splendid, ongoing cycle has arrived at its the third volume, a twofer that illustrates many of the fine traits Blackshaw has been demonstrating throughout this series. He was an inspired choice by the Wigmore Hall.

Blackshaw is not the first pianist to conceive the sonatas as mini-operas, and this is easy to hear in the slow aria in the central movements (something commented on also in my review of Volume 2), or the hustle and bustle of opera buffa in the outer movements. The latter is definitely present in the opening Allegro of K284. It is, though, the slow movements that crown Blackshaw’s Mozart, as K284’s central Andante (a stately, refined Rondeau en Polonaise) shows.

The final set of variations is one of Mozart’s most extended movements for solo piano (almost 19 minutes here). It steals in and gently unfolds, emerging not a second too long. K284 is partnered on the first disc with the F major K332, the clean lines of the latter’s first movement providing the perfect antidote to the extended journey of K284. If anything, the Adagio is Blackshaw’s finest central movement yet; it feels like it is just you and Mozart in the room. Phrasing is magnificently shaded, ornaments are perfectly judged.

The late, famous Sonata K545 is delivered with delicious purity and flow. Against its playful and short finale, Blackshaw pits the mighty C minor Fantasie and the K457 Sonata. The Fantasie’s exploratory ruminations achieve a timelessness that is banished by the orchestrally conceived K457. This is magnificent programming, magnificently delivered.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica

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