Mozart: Piano Trios K 502, 542 & 548

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COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: DG
ALBUM TITLE: Mozart: Piano Trios
WORKS: Piano Trios K 502, 542 & 548
PERFORMER: Anne-Sophie Mutter (violin), Daniel Müller-Schott (cello), André Previn (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 477 5796
Mozart’s piano trios have often been undervalued. It’s true that he was the first to develop the genre from an accompanied keyboard sonata into a genuine form of chamber music with three players contributing on an equitable basis, but his trios are of much more than purely historical interest. The booklet claims that this disc (part of Anne-Sophie Mutter’s crusade to record all of Mozart’s major works featuring the violin) contains the three finest among his works of the kind, though the missing G major, K496, is fully their equal. Of the present triptych, K542 stands out as being Mozart’s only large-scale instrumental piece in the radiant key of E major. Perhaps particularly in view of the ornate C sharp minor episode in its finale, it was a favourite work of Chopin.

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The pairing of Mutter and her husband, André Previn, must be a publicist’s dream, and fortunately there’s much to enjoy here from the musical point of view, too. Mutter’s warm tone and her subtle gradations of vibrato are a constant pleasure, and Daniel Müller-Schott contributes an expressive cello part. However, Previn isn’t as fleet of finger as he once was, and his piano playing sometimes lacks elegance and clarity. Those qualities are present in abundance in the fine recordings of the complete trios by the Parnassus Trio. Misha Donat