Performing on original instruments, with pianist Gerrit Zitterbart playing on a 1749 Hammerfluegel, the Abegg Trio casts us (Feb. 2006) into the milieu of the Mozart family, where we can easily imagine Leopold, Nannerl, and Wolfgang before us, dazzling us with the latest inventions by the eight-year-old boy who seems to have been born with all of Music’s gifts. At the invitation of the Queen of England, Mozart came to court with a set of six sonatas that could be played by a keyboardist with either violin or flute accompaniment and cello obbligato. Jean-Pierre Rampal realized these lovely, facile pieces some years ago for the Epic LP label. Written according to prevailing formulae of the day, the works present swirling, happy figures, turns, trills, delicate imitations, sighs, an occasional sforzato, and any number of spun-out melodies and vigorous fast movements.
As we progress through the set of six sonatas, each moving briskly without awkward pauses, we can hear influences from Abel and J.C. Bach, particularly that master’s command of the Italian style. We can hear some of the drama Mozart gleaned in the last bars of the G Major Trio, KV 11. Wit, improvisation, and charm are the order of the day. The flurry of delightful figures that open KV 12, a miniature trio in A, attest to the camaraderie in performance that marks all of these exquisite, youthful gems. The light action of the Hammerfluegel sparkles, much as would a harpsichord, but with just a bit of bite and girth which the latter instrument lacks. Sizzling violin playing from Ulrich Beetz.
The Divertimento in B-flat, KV 254 (1775) is a Salzburg product, a venue Mozart distrusted for its general level of musicianship. Cast in three movements of approximately equal length, The influence of the Bach family is nigh, maybe that of C.P.E. Bach’s emotional style, as well as the demure formality of J.C. Bach. The close imitation between klavier and violin captures our ears, as well as the sheer transparency of musical texture. The cello part, courtesy Birgit Erichson, has now become something more than a mere echo of upper voices. The quickness of musical thought simply beguiles us. The Adagio could easily have been piano concerto material, albeit rife with ostinati. The tender Rondeau is no less a menuet of French-Viennese elegance, charming and intimate. The sweet delights pass all too quickly, so we must be grateful we can enjoy the privilege as often as we fancy via this appealing Tacet issue.
— Gary Lemco