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Proms Chamber Music 9: Mozart and Spohr Kungsbacka Trio (Malin Broman (violin) – Jesper Svedberg (cello) - Simon Crawford-Phillips (piano)), Lawrence Power (viola), Aronowitz Ensemble (Nadia Wijzenbeek (violin), Jennifer Stumm (viola), Marie Mcleod (cello)), Galliard Ensemble (Kathryn Thomas (flute) - Owen Dennis (oboe) - Katherine Spencer (clarinet) - Helen Simons (bassoon) - Marcus Bates (horn)), Luis Cabrera (double bass), Cadogan Hall, London, 29.8.2009 (BBr)

Mozart: Piano Quartet in Eb major, K493 (1786)
Spohr: Nonet in F, op.31 (1813)

Mozart’s Piano Quartet in Eb is a work of his maturity, if it can be said that Mozart had time to have a mature period. It’s a biggish work in three movements, laid out in broad strokes, and with much interesting writing for all the players. This was a fine performance but was marred by the fact that it had been decided that the piano lid should be on the full stick and thus a modern concert grand pitted against three strings, playing 18th century music, was too much and quite often the strings were drowned out by the keyboard. What I could hear was superb, but the intimacy upon which chamber music thrives was albut lost.

I must admit that I wished that there had been a piano in the Spohr Nonet so it could have overpowered the other instruments! Let’s be honest, this is not a particularly good piece. There are some fine touches of instrumentation, to be sure, and the scherzo with two trios promises much but poor old Spohr didn’t really have it in him to make something from his material and ideas. Consequently, what we heard was a good performance of a piece which I would have been happy to allow to remain on the shelf. A sparkling performance throughout made up for the lack of quality in the composition.

Bob Briggs

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