Richard Wigmore writes: “In November 1792 the twenty-one-year-old Beethoven left his native Bonn for Vienna, then vying with London as the musical capital of Europe. His plan was to study composition with Haydn before launching himself as a composer–performer. With the help of aristocratic contacts—indispensable to any aspiring young musician in Vienna—he quickly made his mark in the city’s salons, dazzling the cognoscenti with his prowess as pianist and improviser and his brilliantly original compositions. He was understandably cautious about tackling the elevated genres of the string quartet and the symphony in which Haydn, still at the height of his powers, especially excelled. But he was prepared to risk head-on comparison with the recently dead Mozart in works like the first two piano concertos, the E flat major String Trio Op 3 (modelled on Mozart’s Trio K563) and a clutch of chamber works involving wind instruments.”
Beethoven clearly had Mozart’s quintet K452 in mind when writing his quintet in E flat for piano and wind however despite the instrumentation and structure being the same Beethoven’s voice and methods remain very much his own, writing on a more expansive scale, creating outer movements that at times resemble a chamber concerto for piano and wind.
Also on this disc is the elegant and refined Trio in B flat major, composed for the then-rare combination of clarinet, cello and piano and the Serenade in D major, Op 25, for the airy combination of flute, violin and viola.