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Hyperion Records

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The Enchanted Castle or Psyche outside the palace of Cupid (detail) by Claude Lorraine (1600-1682)
Reproduced by permission of The Trustees, The National Gallery, London
Track(s) taken from CDA66125
Recording details: April 1983
Unknown, Unknown
Produced by Martin Compton
Engineered by Antony Howell
Release date: February 1987
Total duration: 26 minutes 48 seconds

Piano Trio in B flat major, K502
composer
1786

Allegro  [12'39]
Larghetto  [7'58]
Allegretto  [6'11]

Other recordings available for download
The Florestan Trio
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
In 1786, when he wrote the Piano Trio in B flat major K502, Mozart was at the height of his powers and enjoying the only period of real success in his adult career. The previous year he had completed the six string quartets dedicated to Haydn, and The Marriage of Figaro received its premiere in May 1786. He had now been living in Vienna for five years. When he had first moved there, pianos were not yet the dominant keyboard instrument (as they already were in London and Paris), and it was Mozart more than anyone who awoke the Viennese to the possibilities of the piano as a concerto and chamber instrument. 1786 was the year of three of his greatest piano concertos (K488 in A major, K491 in C minor, and K503 in C major) and of three trios—the sublime ‘Kegelstatt’ Trio for clarinet, viola and piano (K498), and the first two of his mature trios for violin, cello and piano, in G major (K496) and B flat major (K502). These are quite different from the contemporary ‘accompanied sonatas’, giving the violin and cello an independence on which Beethoven was later to build.

Despite this new independence of the string parts, the B flat Trio has a particularly flamboyant character in its piano-writing which makes it seem almost like a concerto. The first-movement Allegro is constructed virtually throughout from the opening phrases, in which piano and stringed instruments answer each other—an economy of means that is much more characteristic of Haydn than of Mozart. Only at the start of the central development section does Mozart venture further afield, with a new theme first on violin then on cello. The Larghetto is a movement of highly decorated lyricism, with a simpler and more poised middle section. Again the style of the elaboration seems to suggest homage to Haydn. The finale is a wide-ranging rondo. Its opening phrase has a rather antique character, like a subject for an organ fugue. From time to time Mozart does treat it to ‘learned’ counterpoint, but always with his characteristically light touch, and interspersed with dashing passages of virtuoso piano-writing. These are combined in a brilliant way as the movement draws to a close. But it is the unassuming little second theme that ends the work, wittily played in counterpoint, as violin and cello answer each other like two characters vying to be the last to leave the stage.

from notes by Robert Philip © 2006


Other albums featuring this work
'Mozart: Piano Trios K502,542,564' (CDA67556)
Mozart: Piano Trios K502,542,564
'Mozart: Six Piano Trios' (CDS44021/3)
Mozart: Six Piano Trios
MP3 £11.25FLAC £11.25ALAC £11.25Buy by post £41.97 (ARCHIVE SERVICE) CDS44021/3  3CDs Boxed set (at a special price) — Archive Service   Download currently discounted

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