MOZART: Piano Trio in B-flat Major, K. 502; Piano Trio in E Major, K. 542; Piano Trio in G Major, K. 564 – The Florestan Trio – Hyperion

by | Sep 14, 2006 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

MOZART: Piano Trio in B-flat Major, K. 502; Piano Trio in E Major, K. 542; Piano Trio in G Major, K. 564 – The Florestan Trio – Hyperion CDA67556, 58:59 (Distrib. Harmonia mundi) ****:

From the outset of this fine disc, we are in glorious throes of Mozart’s mature Viennese style (1786-1788) of trio composition – fleet, virtuosic, marvelously balanced among the parts. Several of Mozart’s composition techniques–his economy of means, the equality and independence of parts, the concertante writing–more than point to Haydn and Beethoven, especially the latter’s Op. 70 trios. Often, Mozart alternates between intimacy and virtuosity, with pianist Susan Tomes having to explode in bravura fashion to keep up with her equally breathless colleagues. The Larghetto testifies to Mozart’s disarming, albeit ornamental, simplicity. The last movement Allegretto reverts to concerto procedures in miniature, dashing off light figures with good nature and a touch of learned counterpoint.

The Piano Trio in E Major (1788) is a product of trying times for Mozart, perhaps hinted at by the harmonic labyrinths and ambiguous ethos of the piece, which cannot quite decide on comic or tragic motifs. The passing modulations to G Minor hint at the great symphony in the same key. Mozart’s development of secondary materials paves the way for Beethoven’s Appassionata Sonata. The piano has rocket figures which urge us away from the docile Alberti bass to flamboyant, contrapuntal places rife with concerto effects. At several points, the music sounds like a violin sonata or a trio sonata. Richard Lester’s cello and Anthony Marwood’s violin contribute several poignant passages. The Andante grazioso employs gentle syncopations as it proceeds in dance steps. Occasionally the placid surface yields to a somber depth of feeling. A glittery finale with some chromatic turns carries us forward, and the violin suddenly shines in concertante brilliance. The Florestan Trio makes this lovely music shimmer with dazzling facility.

The G Major Trio, K. 564 (1788) is Mozart’s last exercise in the genre. Some commentators see in this work a Beidermeier influence toward middle class and amateur ambitions; others see only a distillation of a masterful, chaste technique. Mozart offers new material in his development section of the opening Allegro, thwarting our conventional expectations. Though Susan Tomes’ piano part is particularly exposed, she carries off her runs, trills and rippling fiortura with easy grace. The two strings provide a Haydnesque drone quite in keeping with a spirited peasant dance. Some of the modulations quite anticipate Mendelssohn. The Florestan carries off the theme and variations of the Andante with simple dignity, Lester’s cello enjoys a wiry, tensile strength. Some of the modulations are Bach and Schoenberg at once. A degree of wistfulness enters the last page which carries over into the final Allegretto, an infectious siciliano which becomes a rustic dance with contrapuntal elements. Recorded at Henry Wood Hall 15-17 May 2005, these are seasoned Mozart interpretations of high order.

— Gary Lemco

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