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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Divertimento a 3 (Trio) in B flat major KV 254 [21:08]
Trio in D minor KV 442 [23:04]
Trio (Sonata) in G major KV 496 [25:47]
Trio in B flat major KV 502 [22:38]
Trio in E major KV 542 [18:17]
Trio in C major KV 548 [20:33]
Trio in G major KV 564 [18:11]
Willi Boskovsky (violin)
Nikolaus Hubner (cello)
Lili Kraus (piano)
rec. Vienna, 1954
ANDROMEDA ANDRCD 5149 [69:49 + 79:24]

This complete set of Mozart Piano Trios previously made an appearance on EMI Références in the late nineteen-eighties. This has long since been deleted. Now, out of copyright, it has thankfully resurfaced on Andromeda. Willi Boskovsky and Lili Kraus made several recordings together, most notably the complete Mozart Violin and Piano Sonatas, which include some early sonatas not found in other sets. They also recorded the ten violin sonatas of Beethoven, a set that has completely eluded me for years and sits proudly at the top of my wants list.
Mozart’s Piano Trios are not held in such high regard as his Quartets and Quintets. I have never quite understood why, as four of the trios are mature works and very fine indeed. These were composed within a two-year period between 1786-1788, a creatively fertile time for Mozart, which saw the composition of Don Giovanni and the last four symphonies. He took as his model and inspiration Haydn’s Piano Trios, but developed and expanded the genre. Whereas Haydn’s Trios are more or less accompanied sonatas, Mozart’s mature trios give more equality to each individual part. Each is in three movements, employing the fast-slow-fast scheme.
These are ardent and captivating performances. With warm, elegant playing, one senses a definite chemistry between the players. Apart from KV 442 which is in D minor, the others being in major keys are of a sunny disposition. The performances are imbued with spontaneity and freshness, and thoughtfully nuanced. The slow movements are lyrical and invested with passionate intensity. Yet, all the while, one discerns a graceful simplicity. Instrumental balance between the three players is exemplary. This is chamber music playing at its best.
I have always cherished these recordings, and it is a delight to have them re-mastered in much improved sound to the EMI set. The engineers have done a sterling job in attaining a clear, and more sharply delineated sound-picture. Many recordings from this period have a dry, boxy and cramped acoustic, but not in this case. Here there is space and depth. No venue details are given apart from ‘Vienna’, but my EMI set states that the recordings were made in the Musikvereinsaal. Regrettably there is no documentation apart from a track-listing with timings. Nevertheless they get my full commendation as performances that tick all the right boxes.
Stephen Greenbank