Mozart: Piano Quartets - Mozart Piano Quartet
MDG Gold 943 1579-6
Classical - Chamber
Mozart: Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor K.478, Piano Quartet No. 2 in E flat major K.493
Mozart Piano Quartet
Today Mozart’s piano quartets (KV 478 and KV 493) rank not only as the highlights of his piano oeuvre but also as the founding documents of this musical genre. No doubt about it: these works offer the Mozart Piano Quartet a special opportunity for paying homage to their musical patron in the best MDG quality. Two hundred years ago, however, the public and press found such music difficult to grasp.
During the second half of the eighteenth century piano chamber music either was extremely easy, that is, was intended for amateurs, or involved virtuoso works in which the strings served merely to accompany the pianist’s brilliant keyboard display. Mozart developed a “new style.” He significantly upgraded the parts of the string instrumentalists, suddenly making them the pianist’s equal partners.
The G minor quartet was particularly difficult for the public to digest. The stormy and richly contrastive beginning was an initial source of irritation, and then Mozart presented the foundational ideas of his composition with an intensity rare even in Beethoven. Then came the rondo with its confusing panoply of themes. The E flat major quartet made a much more favorable impression, but the publisher Hoffmeister did not find it easy to market. It had been agreed that Mozart was to write a third piano quartet, but his publisher then said he could wait on it.
Within the shortest time the Mozart Piano Quintet, founded in 2000, has been catapulted to the top echelon of the international music world. This is hardly surprising inasmuch as four international soloists and finalists and first-prize winners at many international competitions form its instrumental lineup: Paul Rivinius (piano), Mark Gothoni (violin), Hartmut Rohde (viola), and Peter Hörr (violoncello). Their interest in new repertoire makes them an ideal MDG partner.
Review by John Broggio - October 17, 2009
A delightful disc in every way.
The playing here, on modern instruments, is exemplary in every way imaginable; there is tasteful use of vibrato where it becomes an embellishment in its own right, there are ornamentations applied in very good taste, the phrasing is done in a way that sounds just right - in short the performances are in as perfect proportion to the music as the music is perfection personified itself. The textures are lithe, owing to the sparing use of vibrato and allow phrases to be passed between string instruments with far more ease than is the norm. There is warmth in the slow movements as well, easily recalling memories of Schnabel with the Pro Arte quartet (although with a far better recording and a more modern style of playing). The piano/strings balance is also handled with great care and even when one party is dominating proceedings, the other contributions are always audible without reference to the scores. In short the felicities of the music and the performance they receive conspire to make the mind scream with joy - every repeat is included and in these hands, rightly so.
The recording is one of MDG's best 2+2+2 recordings and all details are clearly audible with a placing of the listener in the best seat of a very fine chamber hall.
Highly and enthusiastically recommended.
Copyright © 2009 John Broggio and HRAudio.net