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An apt pairing, given that E.T.A. Hoffmann changed one of his names to Amadeus in honour of Mozart (also his A major Sonata is modelled after Mozart’s K282). Hoffmann wrote eight sonatas, of which three are lost, so here we have all five extant examples. While Hoffmann’s material might not always be the greatest, the music is charming. Guembes-Buchanan is remarkably persuasive, particularly in the fugal passages. The Fifth Sonata, in C-sharp minor, sounds almost like C minor Beethoven in Affekt. Here, as elsewhere, Hoffmann is unafraid of sparse textures; this, plus an unpredictability that suggests Hoffmann may have been the C.P.E. Bach of his time.

As to Mozart, Guembes-Buchanan pinpoints a certain restlessness in the music, particularly evident in the sonata finales. This does not preclude beauty, which is frequently apparent, sometimes with decided undercurrents (the C minor Fantasy marks the album’s high point). The sonatas are well contrasted, and Guembes-Buchanan is stylish, her ornaments well-judged. Using a modern Fazioli, she keeps her tone light, her articulation clear. This is Guembes-Buchanan’s finest release so far: stimulating and refreshing from multiple perspectives.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica


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