The New York Times
The Best Classical Music Recordings of 2015
This last release of Mr. Blackshaw’s Mozart cycle, recorded live, is another welcome demonstration of his immaculate tone, delicate way with pacing and exquisite taste in articulation. In four sonatas taken from across the composer’s life, there is never a note of hurry or haste, and nothing that fails to enchant.
David Allen, The New York Times, 10.12.15
The 50 greatest Mozart recordings
Hoist with my own petard, I think. Reviewing Igor Levit’s Bach/Beethoven/Rzewski Variations (11/15), I rashly concluded that I would be lucky to hear as fine a piano recording this year (meaning Gramophone Award year, rather than calendar year, incidentally). And, lo and behold, here is one.
Christian Blackshaw’s Mozart is a known quantity, of course, and I doubt whether any of the superlatives below hasn’t been applied to the previous three volumes in his Wigmore Hall Live series. But permit me to join the chorus of acclaim for his elegance of phrasing, limpid tone quality (captured in a demonstration-quality recording), tastefulness of nuance and ornamentation, and imaginative response to harmony and character. Every tiniest detail here is thought through, and only the most painstaking forensics would find the slightest fault in the fingerwork (a very few bass notes don’t quite speak, and even more rarely an ornament is less than silky smooth, if you want to know). Yet nothing is fetishised. Perfection – or something very close to it – is in the service of freedom.
As Blackshaw himself notes, ‘the sonatas resemble mini-operas’. But how to apply that insight with discretion and variety, with humanity but without histrionics, is a rare gift. Blackshaw is one of the few who know how to make the music sing and dance without making a song and dance of it. And alongside operatic eloquence, his treatment of the surrounding texture suggests the civilised conversation and wit of Mozart’s wind serenades.
Never have the 16 minutes of the first movement of the A major Sonata (K331) passed more graciously, for me at least, and the acknowledgement of the Adagio marking for the fifth variation is exquisitely tasteful. At the end of the C major Sonata (K309), how delectable is the tiny relaxation of pulse to allow the lowest register to speak. How subtly weighted are the fp accents in the slow movement of the F major, and how perfectly adapted to their harmonic environment. Even the wonderful Uchida sounds occasionally a fraction effortful by comparison.
Regretfully, I have to note that this volume completes Blackshaw’s survey of the sonatas. I can only hope for a set of the fantasies, rondos and miscellanea so that I can continue this paean.
David Fanning, Gramophone Magazine, 16.5.16
Donald Tovey described the sonatas as written with his left hand while the composer was occupied with greater things. Yet so searching and satisfying is Blackshaw s playing, so felicitous his touch, we have no sense of inferior works, least of all the two on the second disc, the sparkling K576 and the irresistible K533, with its richly decorated, Bach-inspired slow movement
David Cairns, The Sunday Times, 18th October 2015
Mozart's Piano Sonatas, important landmarks in any pianists repertoire, are seen as both wild improvisatory melodies and challenging exercises for Mozart s pupils. In this, the conclusion of Christian Blackshaw's complete Mozart Piano Sonatas, recorded live at Wigmore Hall, we hear four sonatas that extend from the composer s early years until shortly before his death. Each sonata is bought to life through Blackshaw's luminous tone, compelling delicacy and virtuosity, as he explores the works with fresh insight and superlative musicality. http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0127WVPUC?keywords=christian%20blackshaw&qid=1449408003&ref_=sr_1_2&sr=8-2