Fazil Say - Mozart: Complete Piano Sonatas (Warner)
"I never did a complete box of a composer. So this 6 CD box of all Mozart sonatas for me is a first time. It is my only box of a complete work."
As far as Turkish pianist Fazil Say is concerned, this new box set of Mozart's sonatas is the most comprehensive and the most important work he's ever undertaken as a musical interpreter.
Why was it so important to you to record this compilation?
"It was extremely important because Mozart is my natural way to reach a composer. A relationship of interpreter and composer is extremely important. It should be natural. It should be easy. And that's why I decided to do all of Mozart's works because the ones I played I felt very natural, and there were no questions for me to understand his music. Because I was thinking in a more operatic way, a singing way of Mozart."
I know the venue where you recorded the sonatas, the Mozarteum Great Hall in Salzburg was extremely significant. Would you talk about that?
"I was recording in the Mozarteum, Great Hall in Salzburg, where Mozart was from. And in this magical venue we have fantastic acoustics, a wonderful instrument and a great time. So I went there three times, each time four days. So, during this twelve-days of recording we recorded the 6 CDs including the 18 piano sonatas of Mozart."
I was really charmed by the fact that you gave subtitles to a lot of these sonatas. You're creating visual images for us.
"All the sonatas, each one, has a story. Each movement has a story. That's my idea of playing this, beyond the technical idea of perfection. And beyond the perfection of the text of Mozart. But the image should always be telling the story."
I'm looking at the sonata No. 12 in F, and you've subtitled that "Ritter," and it's related to the theme that we hear. Could you tell us more about that?
"Yes. The sonata for me is one of the richest melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic of Mozart. Extremely well written for piano and actually a developed piece for Mozart's piano playing. It is close to middle period of Beethoven's piano ... it's a developed piece. Which I call "Ritter" and it's a German word. We have I think the first movement is completely like an opera in this piece. The second is kind of a nocturnal aria of the night. And the third movement is a fantastic finale."
How about the Sonata No. 16 in C. You've subtitled that "7" because you were 7 when you played that at your first concert. That's a pretty charming story.
"Right, right. It is for many people called the simple sonata. And a very famous melody. And of course technically easier in piano playing. But it's not easy because in most art we should have a singing sound and a singing sound is always the same difficulty, I think."
I love the story of how when you were playing it for the first time you got kind of lost. And, audience was still blown away. And that surprised you, how moved they were by the performance.
"Yes, I was 7 years old. Probably the audience was quite amazed. I played almost till the end but I lost it just shortly before the end. Then I stand up, I bow, and 5000 people...children...in Ankara in school. ... my very first concert and with this sonata so it is...that is the story with this."
I imagine being Turkish ... Mozart's familiar Turkish Rondo is a favorite. Why is this significant to you?
"Mozart ... was very much influenced by the Turkish military music of the Vienna War of Turks and Austrians. So that is called alla turca ... was a style for many composers. It is a rhythmic style for composers of this 18th century. Mozart is not the only one, but his is the most famous."
Looking back to when you recorded these sonatas — what was most memorable?
"Being alone with a microphone in an empty concert hall and playing in a great way is not very easy. I mean, in concert we have the energy of people, energy of everything. But here, in an empty concert hall ... we go there at 9 o'clock in the morning and work 12-14 hours each day. So it is not easy. It is not easy, not being perfect. Let's say being in the mood of all this imagination."
Turkish pianist Fazil Say, imagining Mozart, in a new light with his complete 6-CD set of Mozart sonatas.