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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: 23 minutes 29 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' (

'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' (

Piano Trio in G major, K496
July 1786; Vienna

Allegro  [8'21]
Andante  [6'00]

Other recordings available for download
London Fortepiano Trio
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The piano trios that Mozart wrote in Vienna after he moved there in 1781 are quite different from the earlier Divertimento, both in musical scope and in the relationship between the instruments. Mozart soon achieved fame in the city as a pianist, and had acquired his own fortepiano by 1785. The keyboard parts that he wrote for his piano trios were now much less suitable for playing on the harpsichord, and much more demanding. Although the best amateur players would certainly have played them on the harpsichord if a piano was not available, they were written for Mozart himself to perform on the fortepiano at his concerts in Vienna. The piano parts are tailored to his own exceptional skills as a pianist—his ‘quickness, neatness and delicacy … and a sensitivity that went straight to the heart’, as an early biographer put it. Indeed, it was Mozart more than anyone who awoke the Viennese to the expressive possibilities of the piano as a chamber and concerto instrument. At the same time Mozart created a new relationship in his trios between the piano and the stringed instruments, in which violin and cello began to take on independent lives of their own.

The Piano Trio in G major K496 is the first of these mature trios, one of a pair written in 1786 (the other being the trio in B flat K502, see Hyperion CDA67556). Mozart had been living in Vienna for five years and was beginning to enjoy some real success, for the first and only time in his career. The Marriage of Figaro was premiered in May 1786, and was increasingly acclaimed as its run continued. In March he had completed two of his greatest piano concertos, K488 in A major and K491 in C minor. This G major Piano Trio followed in July.

The solo piano introduces the opening theme, which is almost operatic in its fluid decoration. At first, only the violin joins in the dialogue, with the cello fulfilling its traditional role as the bass instrument. But the middle section begins dramatically with all instruments fortissimo, and then quietly the cello leads off the discussion, suddenly taking its place as the equal of piano and violin—a moment that must have been startling to Mozart’s contemporaries. The Andante begins, like the first movement, with an elegantly decorated theme. But the movement that unfolds has unexpected depth and complexity, with sudden modulations and, in the middle section, contrapuntal interweavings that remind us of Mozart’s love of J S Bach and Handel. The finale is a set of variations on a rather stately gavotte. The first three variations proceed innocently, but the fourth variation, in the minor, interrupts the calm with an extraordinary change of tone, the violin reiterating a drone-like motif, the cello repeating a sombre bass line below, and the piano weaving more counterpoint above. The fifth variation is an Adagio, which seems almost to take us back to the slow movement. The final variation brings a return to the gavotte tempo with flamboyant piano arpeggios, and all seems set for a brilliant ending. But the strange drone motif and counterpoint from the fourth variation return, and only just in time Mozart pulls the music back to a cheerful conclusion.

from notes by Robert Philip © 2007

Other albums featuring this work
'Mozart: Piano Trios K496 & 542' (CDA66148)
Mozart: Piano Trios K496 & 542
MP3 £5.99FLAC £5.99ALAC £5.99Buy by post £13.99 (ARCHIVE SERVICE) CDA66148  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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