Mozart Piano Quartets: No. 1 in G minor, K478; No. 2 in E flat, K493
Michael Barenboim (violin), Yulia Deyneka (viola), Kian Soltani (cello), Daniel Barenboim (piano)
DG 483 5255 66:49 mins
Mozart’s Piano Quartets are among the finest of his less-played works, and on this disc, recorded ‘live’ last year in the Pierre Boulez Saal in Berlin, they receive something as close as possible to a definitive performance.
The performers are, or were, all members of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra which Daniel Barenboim founded in 1999. His son Michael, who has led the orchestra since 2003, is the violinist here, the violist is Yulia Deyneka, who was also a member of the orchestra, and the cellist is the already-great Kian Soltani, now a soloist with the orchestra. There is no question from the start of the guiding force here: Daniel Barenboim, a great Mozart player early in his career, and once more now, manages to hold things together while being free with rubato and altogether spontaneous, so that this is quintessential chamber music-making. The first of the quartets is in Mozart’s tragic key of G minor, the key of his greatest String Quintet and of the 40th Symphony. Here it is less tense and anxious, and this team doesn’t attempt to make the big first movement grander than it naturally is. One of the many delights of these performances is that they recognise the intimate and non-portentous nature of the works, even where there must be a temptation to plumb non-existent depths in the large Largetto of the second Quartet, in E flat, the key which Mozart tended towards when he wanted to combine intimacy with incipient grandeur, as in the 39th Symphony. Altogether an enchanting disc.