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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: 18 minutes 42 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)

Piano Trio in C major, K548
composer
Summer 1788

Allegro  [7'07]
Allegro  [4'38]

Other recordings available for download
London Fortepiano Trio
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
In the summer of 1788 Mozart wrote a pair of piano trios: the trio in E major K542 (recorded on Hyperion CDA67556), and the Piano Trio in C major K548. This was around the time of the symphonies in E flat (No 39) and G minor (No 40), and Mozart may have written this trio to play at one of the concerts planned for his new orchestral works. But although this was a period of extraordinary productivity, it brought Mozart little financial reward. Austria was at war with the Ottoman Empire, aristocratic support for the arts had dwindled, and Mozart’s wife Constanze was ill and required expensive treatment at a spa. In April Mozart had advertised for subscriptions to a manuscript edition of three string quintets. But there were so few subscribers that he was forced to postpone the publication until the following year. He was running up substantial debts, and the family moved from their apartment in the centre of the city out into a suburb. Shortly before this trio was written, Mozart’s fourth child died. But there seems no clear link between the events of Mozart’s life and the mood of his music. Works that are urgent and tragic in tone alternate freely with others that are cheerful and relaxed, and theories about manic-depressive tendencies do little to explain the pattern.

The first movement of the trio opens confidently, with assertive octaves played by all three instruments, answered delicately and questioningly by the piano. Soon there are flamboyant runs in both piano and violin suggesting that, despite the opening exchange, this trio is going to be uncomplicated in tone. The central development draws out rather a different story. The contrasts of the opening return, the assertive octaves are now in minor keys and alternate with sighing phrases and chromatic shifts. The piano attempts to introduce more flamboyant arpeggios, but the sighing phrases persist, and when the assertive opening theme returns, one is left with the feeling that there is an element of bravura in the confidence. This sense is reinforced by the occasional hesitant touch of minor keys during the reprise and the return of the sighing phrases as the overtly cheerful movement works towards its conclusion.

Similar dark hints also colour the slow movement. The calm of the opening theme is disturbed by sudden accents. A second, more expansive theme, is taken up yearningly by the cello, and a delicate third theme is coloured by dark chromatic touches in its harmonies. It is the middle of the movement that takes us furthest away from the calm decorations of the opening melody. The three instruments combine in octaves once more, but now fiercely. Florid runs from the beginning of the movement are answered by snatches of the expansive second theme, but now combined with shifts of harmony that create a more searching and unsettled impression.

The third movement has the innocent charm of several of Mozart’s piano concerto finales. There are more little chromatic touches in the principal theme, but by now they are playful rather than serious. There is a central episode in C minor, in which variants of the opening figure call to each other from instrument to instrument, and the movement begins to take on a suggestion of Beethoven-like urgency. But this is short lived, and Mozart works back to C major, side-stepping the first theme to plunge straight into the middle of the opening material. When he does eventually return to the first theme, it has acquired witty little decorations, which take on a mock-clumsy air when imitated by the violin. And at the end of the movement, one of the hesitant chromatic moments from the early part of the movement is reiterated, delaying the music in its tracks. But the emphatic conclusion, with the three instruments combining cheerfully in octaves for the last time, makes it clear that any dark elements have by now been thoroughly vanquished.

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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