WORKS: Piano Trio in G, K496; Piano Trio in B flat, K502; Divertimento in B flat, K254
PERFORMER: Maria João Pires (piano), Augustin Dumay (violin), Jian Wang (cello)
CATALOGUE NO: 449 208-2
The Piano Trios K496 and K502 are the earliest masterpieces in the history of the genre. The second of the pair is reasonably well-known, but its less familiar G major companion is, if anything, even more original. It begins with one of Mozart’s boldest flights of fantasy: a rhapsodic piano theme which gives the initial impression of five beats to the bar; and in the intensely argued central development the same theme finds the cello for the first time contributing on equal terms with its partners. The finale consists of variations on a theme in the style of a gavotte. Its minor-mode variation is a shadowy passacaglia which Mozart, in an astonishing stroke, brings back, transfigured into the major, in the movement’s coda.
Maria João Pires’s limpid style is ideally suited to this music, and if Augustin Dumay is rather more Romantically inclined, these remain deeply satisfying performances. It’s a pity, though, that Dumay misreads one or two rhythmic details, and that the minor variation in K496 is taken at such a slow speed as to detract from the following Adagio variation, and to make nonsense of the inevitably much faster reprise in the coda. The disc comes with a bonus CD featuring extracts from other recordings by these artists. Misha Donat