For all his fluency of technique and stylishness of approach, there is some suspicion as to Seong-Jin Cho’s complete empathy with this pair of Mozart Sonatas. Despite clarity and dynamic consideration, the opening movement of K283 is on the hasty side, a little harried, and the lack of the second-half repeat (typically) means this opening Allegro (the sole marking) is over nearly as soon as it begins, following which the Andante is too studied to fully report its amoroso quotient, although there is sensitive shading, and Cho tends to favour brilliance and some blatancy in the Finale. In the great K332 Sonata there is no hiding place, and Cho is found to be rather earthbound, yielding to Sokolov, ironically also on DG. It’s all rather respectful from Cho – nice, pleasing and musical, but greater dimensions (those beneath the notes and those from within the player) are untapped.
It’s a different story with K466, owing a lot to the dramatic and incident-packed contribution from the COE and Yannick Nézet-Séguin, which treads the boards (the notes really fly of the page at the beginning of the Finale), to which Cho responds with inner identification and something more ‘charged’ and characterised than anything in the Sonatas; it’s as if the conductor issued a challenge and the pianist responded positively. He plays Beethoven’s outer-movement cadenzas with flair and gravitas and the central ‘Romanza’ has a nice lilt, an ardent tenor aria rising to stormy passions.