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The second volume of Faust’s Mozart cycle with Alexander Melnikov exceeds the expectations of the first. Sonatas K301, 305, 376 and 378, all in major keys, span a period from Mannheim and Salzburg to the early Vienna days of spring 1781. Here are fully fledged duetti, neither instrument subservient to the other, a glory of imagination, invention and independence blazing new trails. Faust and Melnikov delight, dance and dream their way through the pages, she urgently dynamic, her lines cutting glassily through the texture, sparing in vibrato, he more than once finding a fire and energy not so far removed from the rougher-edged brilliance and temperament of Haydn or Beethoven. His clarity of articulation as he listens attentively to his partner, sculpting and tensioning each phrase with slight leanings on the beat, is a superior experience. Recorded in Berlin on a Stradivarius (the 1704 ‘Sleeping Beauty’) and a pedigree copy by Christoph Kern of a 1795 Anton Walter fortepiano, this is the kind of playing that makes you feel good.

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