Three Mozart Trios featuring
the keyboard playing of Andras Schiff
are contained on this Elatus release.
The recordings were previously issued on the Teldec
label and make a welcome return to the catalogue.
I just love performers to use
period instruments such as those played here. However I am always
cautious when a fortepiano, as chosen here by Andras
Schiff, is played even if it is one that was actually used by
Mozart. The fortepiano sound is very different to that of the
modern grand piano such as a Bösendorfer or
pianists would typically use today. Some listeners will undoubtedly
find the instrument a refreshing change and favour
the authenticity. However the sound will certainly not be to
with many finding it unpleasant and tiring on the ear. A cursory
glance at the front of the CD cover does not offer the information
that a fortepiano is being used. Incidentally the exceptionally
informative booklet notes notify the reader that as well as
the fortepiano the violin and also probably the viola all belonged
Overflowing with creative power
and sheer accomplishment in every branch of music Mozart progressively
developed and liberated the piano trio into independent part-writing.
It was elevated into a genre of chamber music in its own right
rather than as a piano sonata with the support of basso
The seemingly sunny and relatively
undemanding Trio for piano, violin and cello in B flat major,
K502 from 1786 in fact belies the sophistication of the score.
Schiff and his duo give a fine and expressive interpretation
of the B flat Piano Trio and I particularly enjoyed their natural
and unaffected playing in the opening movement allegro.
Mozart is said to have written
the score for the ‘Kegelstatt’ Trio for piano, clarinet and viola in E flat
major, K498 shortly after playing a game of skittles and Kegelstatt is the
German for skittles. This intimate and perfectly blended work
was also written in 1786 with Mozart playing the viola at the
first performance. It was the first of Mozart’s three great
clarinet compositions. The instrumentation in the ‘Kegelstatt’ Trio is creative and enables the use
of new textural combinations. The players are impeccable and
instinctive in producing Mozart’s innovative melodic and harmonic
invention especially in the middle movement Menuetto - Trio, which is beautifully played.
In a three month period in
1788 Mozart wrote three piano trios. The first, K542 is considered to be the most significant and certainly the most
moving. The straightforward and cheerful mood is effortlessly
communicated by the Trio who also sensitively convey the undercurrents
of melancholy contained in the work. I really enjoyed the lucid
and alert playing for both piano and violin in the brilliant
virtuoso passages in the rondo of the concluding allegro
On this CD these are well played
works by talented performers yet the two trios that lead the
way for their extra artistry and vivacity use modern instruments.
These are available on a double set containing the Piano trios
No.1-6 by the Trio Fontenay on Teldec’s budget Ultima label 8573-87794-2. My preferred version of the ‘Kegelstatt’ Trio K.498 is the warm and rather beautiful
performance from Kovacevich, Brymer
and Ireland on Philips Duo 446 154-2. The bargain-priced Philips
Duo set also includes the six piano trios.
Fine performances on period
instruments by Andras Schiff and friends
but not a first choice.