04-23-2014 Mozart only wrote 2 Piano Quartets, and why, I have no idea. I thought it strange and looked years ago for more of them, but true, hew only composed the K.478 and K. 493, both from 1785 and 1786, and the Vanguard notes tewll us that Haydn wrote no Piano Qr. or Qn.s as well. Apparently, the addition of the piano with 4-5 strings was not very popular, perhaps due to the needs of musical and wealthy families for extra musicians, from outside of their own families. Most of the music that these two great masters penned was later found in the remains of wwell to do and educated Germans and Austrians of position and influence.
The Quartet in g minor, k.478 runs a healthy 25:34 and begins with a stern and bold tutti in the darkened g minor key. But, it soon brightens up with G Major being reached before the first minute of music. Most of this 1st movement Allegro is given to the major/minor give and take of the conversation between the keyboard and the string instuments. Mozart's Andantes are always graceful, gentle and rather tender, not much diferent than beeethoven's and these are no exceptions with the g minor quartet's andante lasting only for 6:18, it is mushch too short, for me, at least. Simplicity is one of Amadeus's best features in all of his music, but especially in his vast Chamber Music output. The musicians on this recording, by the way, are violinist Alexander Schneider, violist michael tree, cellist David Soyer and the pianist is the wonderful young Peter Serkin, son of the even more wonderful Rudy Serkin, the most famous and talented father/son combo, perhaps, than the young Wolfgang and his papa , Leopold. Mozart was fond of the Rondo as a finale, and this one is yet another fine example of his skill in writing for this simple yet often tedious form. We heafr a friendly dual between the strings and the piano, each vying for our attention, as the music brightly scampers along in this short, quick Allegro, yet he does take a full 8 + minutes to make his point.
The Piano Quartet in E Flat Major begins much more boldly with a strong unison statement by all four playersas they launch into the 10:28 Allegro in an almost Symphonic character. 1786 was a busy year for the compoer as he had just finished his Prague Symphony, the #38 and was working on the splendid and trully gorgeous Clarinet Quintet, whichb i learned only last year in a great recording by first chairs players of the Academy of St. martin in the Fieldson Philips---another wonderful Mozart disk to own!! He had completed all his concerti, and was laboring on two of his best operas, The Impresario and le Nozze di Figaro.
Soon would come the Masterful Magic Flute and the swan-song unfinished Requiem, K.626. This neat littlepiano quartet is another fine example of Mozart's converrsational skills as he made his point in a Hollywood hit movie, Amadeus, starring F. Murray Abram and tom hulse, as the youyng composer. In a really funny and important scene, Mozart pleads with the Emperor his case of the "chaos" in his opera, which, if I recall correctly, is supposed to be Figaro. He tell the monarch that only in music can 2,3,4,5,oreven 8 people speak allat the same time, and yet be heard, and understood. It is impossible in a play, and it would be a typographical nightmare in a book, but in opera is can be done. I never had thought of it that way, and here it was a silly Hollywood entertainment that taught me a fundamental musical truth. The art of counterpoint and the technique of juxtapositioning are both possible only in an Opera. Any Opera, on any subject in any language. WOW! Here, in these quartets
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart gives us just that, this amazing, sensational and oh so clever entertainment. And, that's just what it is, an entertainment. There are no great and profound thought to be unveiled herem, just four guys having some fun.
The 8 minute long Larghetto opoens with solo piano and is joined one at a time by the other members of this ad hoc foursome. It is slow, pensive and halting, and, I mist confess, not the most interesting music of the composer. i had a challenge remaining alert during my listening to it as my powers of concentration got a good test. I believe I passed, but barely. the Finale is an Allegretto, which suprised me as generally, this composer prefers Rondo finales but this one works just fine. In facct, it is a sort of quick step country dance idea, that is light, free, unfettered and really simple.if it means anything, the music was over much sooner than I had thought it would be.
In concclusion, this disk from Vanguard is one of their standard releases, which means, for them, it it pretty low budget production. The liner notes, whilce interesting musically, asre cheap and short. There is little bio date on the performers, as there should be more. I have no idea where or when this set of works was recorded, but, I doubrt I paid much for this CD, AND, most importantly, the music is wonderfully played. When you have a group of artists this good, this famous and this gifted, how can you miss? What else would you exspect to get??? Best wiches and God bless you all, happy listening as well, Tony.