will Iím sure be a great deal of Mozart to listen to this year
(250th birthday!). I hope that some of his less well
known pieces will be given an airing and greater recognition.
piano trios are not that well known; certainly compared to his
quartets, quintets and piano sonatas. There are several good
sets available, my personal favorites include the Beaux Arts
Trio which presently reside in the Mozart edition [Philips 4648202].
I see that there is also a Duo set [Philips 4461542]. Thereís
also the excellent Trio Fontenay which I purchased after the
glowing review by Michael Cookson (Warner Classics APEX 2564
62189 - see review).
These recordings which cost me only £6.99 via Amazon are also
in a very good value Warner 16 CD chamber music set retailing
from as little as £30 (Warner Classics 2564 62335-2 - see review).
Against this background, these new recordings from the Gryphon
Trio at full price need to be very special.
The Gryphon Trio
begins this selection with a Divertimento from 1776 at a time
when the trio would still be based around the piano. The violin
doubles the pianoís right hand; the cello, the left. There is
a lovely slow movement which as the sleeve-notes point out has
a superb cantilena. They play this very well but to my ears
their approach is more 19th century romanticised
than Mozartian. Comparing it with old favorites such as the
Beaux Arts demonstrates that these Canadians are very high in
the ranks but must cede precedence to the older recording.
just right from the opening chords of K496. Why isnít this fine
work better known? Whilst the melody reminds me of a piano concerto,
the sound is firmly in a chamber setting. The languid slow movement
follows. Here the sound is preferable to that offered by the
Trio Fontenay. The highlight of the piece is a delightful set
of variations which work very well. It is a bonus to have the
individual variations on separate tracks: not the case with
This recording of
K502 is brought into direct comparison with the recently reviewed
Mutter disc. There will be those who prefer the Gryphonís approach
but I feel it is just a little matter of fact compared with
Mutter and Co. Donít get me wrong, this is Mozart playing of
a high order and Iíd love to hear them live. Itís just that
if I could choose only one version of these pieces Iíd go for
Mutter and recommend for the budget conscious the Fontenay.
K564, which is not
on the Mutter disc, also has a lovely set of variations and
a superb finale. It makes great home listening particularly
after a busy week and with perhaps a glass to hand! The Gryphon
plays this, as with all the trios, very well and empathetically.
If I was to be critical, I simply miss the last degree of Mozartian
A small note. The
box proclaims Ďthe complete piano triosí but does not include
K442, a problematic composite piece you can find in the Beaux
Artsí complete Mozart set.
To sum up - this
has been quite a difficult review. I am delighted to have acquainted
myself with this fine Canadian trio. They deliver first rate
performances of splendid and unfairly neglected pieces and I
will return to them often. However, if I had to plump for one
double disc of the recognized Piano Trios I would choose the
cheaper, and to my ears superior, Trio Fontenay. It may be about
16 years old now and so the sound may not be quite so good but
the playing is really special. For those with a bigger budget,
the Beaux Arts in the Complete Mozart edition is a super alternative.
David R Dunsmore