Mozart: Piano Trios, K442, 542, 548 & 564

LABELS: Signum
WORKS: Piano Trios, K442, 542, 548 & 564
PERFORMER: Ambache Chamber Ensemble
The three works featured on the Ambache Chamber Ensemble’s disc date from the same miraculous


summer of 1788 that also saw Mozart produce his last three symphonies. All are among his most beautiful chamber works with piano, but the most profound of them is the large-scale K542 in E major. The same work is also included by the Florestan Trio, in a performance that benefits greatly from Anthony Marwood’s warm and sweet-toned violin playing. Yet for all the accomplishment of the playing itself, this new disc is not quite as satisfying as the Florestan’s previous recordings of the great 19th-century trio repertoire. Perhaps as a result of a surfeit of editing, there’s an occasional feeling of carefulness and calculation that prevents the music from flowing as naturally as it should, while a piece such as the finale of the B flat Trio, K502, needs to impart more of a sense of sheer enjoyment. Much the best performance here is the G major Trio, K564 where the music-making at last conveys genuine spontaneity.

The performances by the Ambache Chamber Ensemble are more even in quality; but while there’s no doubting the players’ affection for the music, their easy-going accounts are seriously under-characterised, with dynamic contrasts all too often ironed out, and tempos very much on the safe side. An interesting inclusion is a fine


D major Allegro, possibly also of 1788 – one of the most substantial of the chamber-music fragments completed following Mozart’s death by his friend Maximilian Stadler. All Stadler had to do in this case was to fill in a few accompanying string passages, and supply a recapitulation closely modelled on Mozart’s exposition. The piece, together with two other incomplete movements, is also found on the Parnassus Trio’s complete set of the Mozart trios. The Parnassus’s fine performances, at once livelier and more sensitive, remain a benchmark for this repertoire. Misha Donat