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Hyperion Records

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The Swing by Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Pater (1695-1736)
Private Collection / © Christie's Images / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67609
Recording details: May 2006
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: May 2007
Total duration: 17 minutes 50 seconds

'At the start of K548's airy finale, Susan Tomes' gracefully demure piano is swiftly countered by Anthony Marwood's raffish forte riposte: and this sense of delighted, quick-witted dialogue between quasi-operatic protagonists runs through the whole movement, abetted by touches of sly, subtle timing, from Marwood especially. No performance of this piece has ever made me smile as much … talk of an outright winner is always dangerous. For my taste, though, the Florestan's sparkling, inventive performances, on this disc and its companion, make them a top recommendation for the complete Mozart trios, their claims enhanced by the warm, ideally balanced recording' (Gramophone)

'These are certainly performances to be treasured, with the playing unfailingly stylish and full of imaginative touches … their new recording can be unreservedly recommended' (BBC Music Magazine)

'With their close and subtle rapport, the Florestan relish the music's badinage and dramatic imbroglios. They have a knack, too, for sensing opportunities for interplay in the simplest theme-plus-accompaniment texture … the sensitive, quick-witted Florestan now take the palm' (The Daily Telegraph)

'These performances are inventive, spontaneous, expressive. They bring a singing quality to the melodies and a real grasp of structure … there is a real sense of occasion, of something important happening' (American Record Guide)

'There is a thematic richness here [K496], and a depth of emotion especially in the Andante, that invite and here receive a much more serious interpretative approach. The phrasing is appropriately broader, the instrumental tone warmer and in general there is a greater eloquence in response to a true Mozart masterpiece … the recordings are excellent: close and very well balanced for the needs of each work' (International Record Review)

'Even the two masterpieces … are neglected today. These marvellously urbane and civilised performances make one wonder why' (The Sunday Times)

'The Florestan Trio get it exactly right, with Susan Tomes' exquisite pianisim perfectly supported by violinist Anthony Marwood's lithe, highly articulate playing and cellist Richard Lester's finely judged asides. Another winner from this wonderful ensemble' (Classic FM Magazine)

'This is a reference recording! How joyful, the sparkling flair of this new release. Hyperion has once more amazed us in offering a sample of exquisite musicianship, combined with a vividly engineered sounds. richly detailed and ideally suited for Mozart's sensitive scoring. Ensemble work is flawless, and intonation is no problem whatsoever. All three musicians are constantly looking for an original yet thoughtful approach to the score, and they succeed extremely well in doing so. I can't wait to hear their next contribution' (Fanfare, USA)

'The Trio's Mozart interpretations are really second to none. With a delightful 'classical' approach their playing is light and nimble, and never too weighty even when the music might suggest it. Particularly in K548, they slip between light and heavy naturally and seamlessly. The balance between the three instruments is spot on throughout, which reflects not only the players' astute and perfectly even-handed awareness of each other but also the skill and sensitivity of the recording engineer. The Florestan Trio are no strangers to the recording stage, and are collecting an enviable amount of excellent reviews. This is another one to add to the treasury. Bravo!' (MusicWeb International)

'The Florestan Trio take on Mozart's trios and inhect them with an enthusiastic zest. The textures are light, the playing airy, with a real sense of dialogue. Susan Tomes is pure magic on the piano, Richard Lester draws the oakiest of timbres from his cello, while violinist Anthony Marwood takes on his task with absolute glee' (The Northern Echo)

'This is lovely music impeccably performed, recorded and presented' (ClassicalSource.com)

'The Florestan Trio are back, and it almost goes without saying that their latest album is life-affirming, full of energy and deeply impressive—particularly in the way the musicians listen to each other even as they respond in dazzling style' (FirstPost.com)

Divertimento in B flat major, K254
composer
1776; Salzburg

Allegro assai  [6'05]
Adagio  [5'16]

Other recordings available for download
London Fortepiano Trio
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Despite its title, the Divertimento in B flat K254 is, in effect, Mozart’s first piano trio, written in Salzburg in 1776: ‘in effect’, because it is unlikely that Mozart had the opportunity to play it on a piano at that date. The principal keyboard instrument in the Mozart household at this period was a two-manual harpsichord. Mozart had, however, certainly played on fortepianos on his travels, and he was to do so again soon after writing this Divertimento. Letters to his father reveal that he played this work twice on the piano while he was in Munich in October 1777, on both occasions at the inn ‘Zum schwarzen Adler’ (The Black Eagle), where the proprietor was Franz Joseph Albert. He was described by Mozart as ‘a thoroughly sincere man and such a good friend’, and he was a music-lover who possessed a fortepiano. At one informal gathering of musicians, Mozart took the violin part of the Divertimento and played ‘as if I were the greatest fiddler in the whole of Europe’. The other occasion was a little private concert in honour of Albert’s birthday. This time Mozart played the piano part, giving the violin line to a visiting violinist who was a pupil of the great Tartini. Unfortunately he couldn’t sight-read, and kept on going wrong. Mozart writes: ‘There indeed I had a fine accompanist! In the Adagio I had to play his part for six bars.’ Back in Salzburg, Mozart’s father Leopold had better luck the following January, when two visiting musicians asked to hear Mozart’s sister play (presumably on the family harpsichord), and ‘accompanied Nannerl most excellently in your clavier trio in B flat’.

‘Accompany’, a word pianists have good reason to mistrust, is the right word in this case, though it is the stringed instruments that accompany the piano, not the other way round. Those letters reveal just the sort of informal setting for which this trio was designed. In this, unlike Mozart’s later trios, it follows the pattern of Haydn and a host of lesser composers in providing amateur keyboard-players with a delightful work for them to play on whatever instrument was available, with their friends accompanying them on violin and cello. Such works were published not as trios, but as ‘Sonatas for harpsichord or forte piano, with the accompaniment of violin and violoncello’. There was a very large market for them, particularly in Vienna and England.

In Mozart’s Divertimento, as in other accompanied sonatas, the cello shadows the bass of the piano almost throughout, almost in the manner of the Baroque continuo (Mozart’s layout of the parts in the score suggests something of this tradition, with the cello part below the piano, and the violin above). In the first movement the violin provides a charming foil to the piano’s right hand, sometimes filling in with an accompanying figure, at other times moving in thirds against the melody, or answering the piano’s phrases. As the work continues, the violin’s freedom increases, and it becomes a much more equal partner with the piano in the second and third movements. The first movement is a brisk Allegro assai, the finale a minuet-rondo, a form in which Mozart’s friend Johann Christian Bach excelled. The central Adagio looks forward to the later trios, with its melancholy touches of chromatic harmony, and the increasingly airborne decoration of its melody.

from notes by Robert Philip © 2007


Other albums featuring this work
'Mozart: Piano Trios K254 & 548' (CDA66093)
Mozart: Piano Trios K254 & 548
MP3 £5.99FLAC £5.99ALAC £5.99Buy by post £13.99 (ARCHIVE SERVICE) CDA66093  Archive Service; also available on CDS44021/3  
'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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