Composers: Mozart
Compositions: Piano trios 
Performers: Daniel Barenboim p, Michael Barenboim v, Kian Soltani vc
Catalogue Number: DG 4837506 (2CD)

This masterful survey convinced me that Mozart’s Piano Trios really are one of his more neglected genres. The only (very mild) complaint is that the cello doesn’t get much of a look in. Mozart’s personality appears in all its glory in this collection: the forcefulness and elegance, the seriousness and wit, the sturdiness and delicacy and the melancholy and exuberance, inter alia. I found myself marvelling at the sudden and often unexpected shifts away from gorgeous Rococo daintiness to something more sinewy and dramatic.

In the G Major (K496) the music constantly surprised me with a volatility which occurred in all three movements – the startling eruption in the first, the sudden intensity of the Andante following the affectionate susurrated exchanges and the kaleidoscopic unpredictability of the variation finale. Had I not known I was listening to Mozart I would not have recognised the opening of the K542 in E Flat with its ‘modern’ chromatic drama. In the C Major, K548, the mood is skittish. Minor key passages seem to lurk closely below the surface and suddenly appear like dark clouds scudding across the sky, momentarily blocking out the sun.

These works follow an interesting trajectory, with the more straightforward first and last as bookends to the more emotionally complex central four. The playing is lovely, alert and sensitive. The recording is fine but the liner notes are well-nigh useless.

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