Anton Eberl Emerges from the Shadow of Mozart

Pianist/composer Anton Eberl was a contemporary of Beethoven and a student of Mozart. Some of Eberl’s works were misattributed to Mozart, and that’s not surprising.

As this new release shows, Eberl’s style is quite similar to Mozart’s. But not quite identical (a lot of the misattribution was done by unscrupulous publishers).

The two sonatas for piano four-hands, published in 1797, are full of light-hearted Mozartian motifs. But Eberl’s treatment of them leans more towards the bravura.

By contrast, the 1804 Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra seems a little tame. It’s not that Eberl wasn’t inventive. He plays with the audience’s expectations of form. The second movement is a lively march (instead of a slow andante). The Andante is sandwiched into the final movement.

The solo parts are both challenging and well-constructed musically. It’s just that Beethoven’s third piano concerto premiered the year before. And compared to that work, Eberl’s Mozartian elegance can sound a little old-fashioned. Not to audiences of the day, though. It was one of Eberl’s most popular works, and he played it as often as possible while touring.

Pianists Paulo Giacometti and Riko Fukuda perform these works admirably. They have the lightness needed to play Eberl at his most delicate and the power to bring home the big climaxes.

Both play fortepianos of the period, and the sound is exceptional. In most recordings, the action seems exceptionally noisy, interfering with the music. In this case, the actions were virtually silent. Well done!

If your tastes for Classical Era music leans more towards Mozart than Beethoven, give these Eberl works a listen. You’ll find much to like.

Anton Eberl
Concerto for Two Pianos & Orchestra op. 45
Sonatas for Piano Four Hands, Op. 7
Paolo Giacometti, Riko Fukuda, piano
Kölner Akademie; Michael Alexander Willens, conductor
CPO 777 733-2

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