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Mozart: Piano Quartets Nos 1 & 2, etc

Dejan Lazic (piano), Zen Hu (violin), et al (Onyx)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor, K478; Piano Quartet No. 2 in E flat major, K493; Rondo Concertante in B flat major, K333
Dejan Lazic (piano), Benjamin Schmid, Zen Hu (violin), Johannes Erkes (viola), Enrico Bronzi (cello)
Onyx Classics ONYX4207 71:08 mins


The historical evidence isn’t clear as to why, in his two piano quartets, Mozart set about surpassing even his own usual creative level. As the booklet note relates, it may or may not be true that the wondrous range of invention in the G minor Quartet, K478, commissioned as the first of three, so bewildered its first audiences that the rest of the project lapsed. That didn’t prevent Mozart composing the E flat Quartet K493 as a follow-up, however, and if anything with even more dazzling results.

Rather as C minor was for Beethoven, G minor for Mozart was a key denoting swirling emotional turbulence. Yet the First Quartet’s idiom is also authentically Classical, and the challenge for its performers – especially when, as here, playing on modern rather than period instruments – is to do justice to the work’s cascade of moods and ideas without propelling these, consciously or otherwise, too far towards Beethoven territory.

Dejan Lazić and his string-playing colleagues wonderfully solve this conundrum. Lazić likes to inflect this or that gorgeous phrase a little within the context of the main tempo of the moment, but he does it with an instinctive musicianship that disarms resistance. In the E flat Quartet’s sunnier landscape, the central Larghetto’s mood of poised dreaminess is exactly captured, and Lazić delivers the piano’s virtuoso passagework in the outer movements with sparkling ease. The Rondo finale from the B flat Piano Sonata K333 isn’t material in this class, yet Lazić’s piano quintet arrangement makes for a likeable encore.

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Malcolm Hayes