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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756 - 1791)
Piano Trio in C, K.548 (1788) [19’ 50”]
(Allegro [6’59”]; Andante Cantabile [8’43”]; Allegro [4’08”])
Piano Trio in E, K.542 (1788) [18’ 37”]
(Allegro [7’05”]; Andante Grazioso [5’04”]; Allegro [6’28”])
Piano Trio in B Flat, K.502 (1786) [22’38”]
(Allegro [7’44”]; Larghetto [8’51”]; Allegretto [6’03”])
Anne-Sophie Mutter (violin), Daniel Müller-Schott (cello), André Previn (piano)
rec. Baden Baden Festpielhaus, May 2005
Producers: Reinhild Schmidt, Ulrich Vetter
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 00289 477 5796 [61’20”]

Mozart’s piano trios don’t seem to feature very highly among his output. I think this is a pity as they are lovely works. Those presented here are three mature pieces and show the strengths of the instruments more than in earlier trios when the piano was dominant.
 
No. 6 in C major has a lively first movement and everything is right with this performance. The slow movement is wistful and there are traces of what will follow with Beethoven in his wonderful trios. I love the interplay with cello and violin and all three play very well. The finale is splendid. This piece deserves greater popularity. I’ll be honest and tell you that I feared the great André Previn might be out of his depth here with two much younger musicians but not at all. There’s a feeling of spontaneity and the very good sound conjures up real music-making. The piece was written about a month before his last “Jupiter” symphony and shows some affinity with that work.
 
Like my favourite Symphony No.39 (E flat) trio No. 5 in E major has feelings of remoteness in the first movement. This unusual movement is very sympathetically played. There are hints of what will come but we are definitely still in 18th century. The concise but well written notes by Anthony Burton suggest that the second movement, with its “haunting series of changes”, may hint of Schubert. Perhaps so but the piano in particular reminds me more of Sonata (K 542) and is very affectionately played. This really ought to be more widely known and I hope these performances help to achieve that. The rondo is one of Mozart’s happiest ideas and yet despite its superficial jolliness there is as ever an underlying deeper undertone. Throughout the playing avoids being self-regarding and achieves its aim in conveying the wonder of Mozart. There are splendid opportunities for Mutter to show her prowess but never to dominate; a great performance.
 
In Trio No. 4 in B flat major we end with the earliest piece in a favourite key of Mozart’s. The first movement with two related themes has a memorable tune and is excellently executed. The slow movement shows again Previn’s skill as a pianist and there’s real magic when the two strings come in. Again you can’t escape a wistful quality in the slow movement but it’s not romantic. The finale was described by Alfred Einstein as beginning “like the rondo of a concerto but without any sacrifice of the finely wrought detail of chamber music”; very apt words and they have marvelous advocacy here.
 
This seems to me to be a very good product of Mozart’s 250th. Birthday celebrations. I will be comparing this CD to the double by The Gryphon Trio who have recorded all the Trios. Here we have three top class players working as one and obviously relishing this life affirming music.
 
It says “limited edition” on the box. If I was you I would get a copy now!
 
David R Dunsmore

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