It’s tough being a good composer — when your father’s a great one. Franz Xaver Mozart was the youngest son of Wolfgang Amadeus. Franz’s compositions aren’t ground-breaking, but they are satisfying in their own right.

Franz Xaver was a conductor and pianist as well as a composer. As a performer, he spent several years touring and working in Eastern Europe. That experience is reflected in two of the three works on this release.

The Six Polonaises mélancoliques for piano, Op. 17 were finished in 1814. These piano works aren’t as technically challenging as Chopin’s polonaises. But they’re both inspired by Polish music. Franz Xaver’s polonaises have an elegant restraint about them, with only a hint of their ethnic origin.

The 1815 Fantasy on a Russian Song and a Krakowiak in A Major shows the composer at his most imaginative. Franz Xaver often played the work in concert, and with good reason. The technical demands increase as the work progresses, with plenty of crowd-pleasing runs and arpeggios.

Franz Xaver’s 1807 piano sonata seems to look back rather than forward. It’s an extensive four-movement work that seems inspired by Haydn with its tasteful elegance. It’s only when we remember that Beethoven’s “Appassionata” sonata was published the same year that it loses some of its charms.

Anna Liszewsaka performs in a committed fashion. Her talent is bringing out the beauty inherent in Franz Xaver’s melodies. I especially enjoyed her performances of the polonaises.

The best way to enjoy this release? Just listen to the music on its own merits. In the end, it doesn’t matter who Franz Xaver was related to. He’s not writing his father’s music — he’s writing his own. And Franz Xaver does have something to say.

Franz Xaver Mozart: Piano Works
Anna Liszewska, fortepiano
DUX 1441