Jean Muller on Mozart: “He has a sort of tenderness in the way he depicts the world, and his view of other people, and that is very fascinating.”
Photo: Kaupo Kikkas
This January, Luxembourg pianist Jean Muller released the first of five albums of Mozart’s complete piano sonatas.
In his lifetime, Mozart composed 18 numbered piano sonatas, and the first album covers sonatas K281, K331, K332 and K570. Following the 11 January release of the first album, the remaining four albums will be released every six months.
The recording of the works was some three years in the making. The award-winning pianist is currently playing the entire cycle in four concerts in Paris, having already done the same in Luxembourg and during a “very intense” two weeks at the Shanghai Oriental Art Centre, where he made the decision to do the recordings.
“It’s important to perform [the pieces] first in concert, to live with them,” he said in an interview, adding: “You play the music, touch it, you read about it, hear other people playing it, then you shape your own vision.”
The recordings were done using his own piano and just two microphones, to keep a natural sound, over two five-day sessions at the Luxembourg City Conservatoire, which Muller says has great acoustics.
A cosmopolitan with a unique worldview
What particularly struck the pianist over the process is that, on one hand, some clichés about the composer do ring true, “like angelic music coming from heaven”.
On the other hand, Muller had other observations, like “the sense of humour Mozart has in all these works. It’s subtle, not slapstick, and I’d say he has a sort of tenderness in the way he depicts the world, and his view of other people, and that is very fascinating.”
Muller also points out how cosmopolitan Mozart was: “At 10 years old, he had already traveled to around 100 European cities, from Vienna to London, and at that time it was truly exceptional. I think it shaped his vision of the world.”
He adds: “You could say he was a European before the project started.”