This new release highlights some of Mozart’s lesser-known works, all for string trio: the Divertimento in E flat major, KV 563 and two of the Fugues with slow Preludes from the set of six, KV 404a (after Bach). The Divertimento, KV 563 is not only Mozart’s sole large-scale composition for string trio, it is also one of the first works ever written for the combination of violin, viola, and cello. It was composed in 1788, the same year as three of Mozart’s greatest and best-known works, the symphonies in E flat, G minor, and C (the ‘Jupiter’). Mozart was at the absolute height of his powers as a composer, and at the premiere of the divertimento in Dresden in 1789, he himself played the viola part.
Authentic and authoritative, these 1985 recordings of Mozart and Beethoven's quintets for piano and winds have almost everything going for them. Performing on a pianoforte modeled on a 1790 Viennese instrument, Jos van Immerseel is an adroit player, while the quartet drawn from the period instrument wind band Octophoros – Paul Dombrecht on oboe, Elmar Schmid on clarinet, Piet Dombrecht on horn, and Danny Bond on bassoon – are likewise all skillful instrumentalists. But while their playing is beyond contention – listen to their keen balances, their smooth ensemble, their unified rhythms – their interpretations miss the one thing that defines these works: their sense of fun..
A “touching and magnificent reunion” (Der Standard). The public and press enthusiastically celebrated the long-awaited return of Claudio Abbado to the Salzburg Festival in 2012. The conductor brought with him Mozart’s youthful Mass K. 139, the so-called Waisenhausmesse, and Schubert’s late Mass in E flat major. In a fascinating way, Abbado succeeded in merging the singers and instrumentalists into a total collaborative effort: “Seldom has one heard such a perfect balance between choir, orchestra, and vocal soloists; one has also seldom heard such a beautifully coordinated and perfectly balanced vocal ensemble” (Salzburger Nachrichten).
Dvorák's popular Piano Quartet No. 2 in E flat major, Op. 87, and Piano Quintet No. 2 in A major, Op. 81, have received numerous performances by Czech ensembles, as well as plenty of foreigners who have attained fluency in the received Czech style (or not). This fine release by Britain's Schubert Ensemble takes the step of defining a non-Czech way of playing Dvorák, with fresh and persuasive results. The players are circumspect and precise in the classic British style, but what they do is bold: they reduce the emphasis on the Czech rhythms in the music, turning them into accents rather than structural determinants.
Giovanni Battista Sammartini, son of the French oboist Alexis Saint-Martin, was most probably born in Milan on 1700 or 1701; his death certificate, dated 1775, gives his age as 74. Little is known about his childhood, but in 1774 he is already documented as being a maestro di cappella, and we know that he was active as a performer on the oboe and organ, winning admiration for the individuality of his touch on the latter instrument…
Maria Daniela Villa - Translation by David S. Tabbat