All products and recordings are chosen independently by our editorial team. This review contains affiliate links and we may receive a commission for purchases made. Please read our affiliates FAQ page to find out more.

Mozart – The Piano Quartets

Federico Colli (piano), Francesca Dego (violin), Timothy Ridout (viola), Laura van der Heijden (cello) (Chandos)

Our rating 
2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

Piano Quartets in G minor and E flat major
Federico Colli (piano), Francesca Dego (violin), Timothy Ridout (viola), Laura van der Heijden (cello)
Chandos CHAN20179   68:18 mins

Advertisement MPU reviews

The story goes that the composer and publisher Franz Anton Hoffmeister commissioned a series of three piano quartets from Mozart, but he was disconcerted by the unruly nature of the first of them, and its sales figures were poor, so he terminated their contract before the second quartet was fully engraved. Certainly, the opening movement of that first work, K478, in Mozart’s very personal key of G minor, is one of his most impassioned utterances, and the players on this new recording seem determined to bring out every ounce of its drama. They do so, unfortunately, to a fault, attempting to wring maximum expression out of every phrase in a manner that’s stylistically at odds with the music. The start of the opening movement’s central development section, for instance, is so languid that the
music is in danger of losing all impetus, while the acceleration in its closing bars may whip up the excitement, but perhaps at the expense of good taste.

The second quartet, K493, fares better, though the first movement’s coda is again much too freely handled, and the pianissimos introduced in the slow movement sound exaggerated. And while it’s fashionable these days to decorate the repeats – no doubt Mozart would have done so when playing the pieces himself – unless you do so very sparingly the twiddles become tiresome, as they do here. These are clearly talented players, and if only they had allowed the music to speak for itself their performances would have been a good deal more satisfying.

Advertisement MPU reviews

Misha Donat