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.
The Scottish Chamber Orchestra Ensemble, a group of principal players from the SCO, perform a selection of Mozart's chamber works written for smaller forces. This intimate performance showcases the wealth of talent present in this multi-award-winning orchestra
Considering that Mozart's Divertimento in E-flat is far and away the greatest string trio ever written, and one of the unquestionable monuments of chamber music generally, it doesn't get the attention that it surely deserves from either record labels or collectors. Perhaps the dearth of regularly constituted string trios (as opposed to quartets) has something to do with it, but the fact remains that there is no greater testament to Mozart's genius than this epic, nearly 50-minute-long masterpiece in six movements that contains not a second that fails to rise to the highest level of textural gorgeousness and supreme melodic inspiration. Happily, most performances understand how special the music is, and give it their best effort. This one is no exception. The Zimmerman Trio plays with remarkably accurate intonation and a ravishing tone that's also mindful of the Classical style. Schubert's single-movement trio makes the perfect coupling. It seems to grow right out of the Mozart until the end of the exposition, when Schubert suddenly sails in with some typically arresting harmony.
Believed to have been composed between August 1775 and January 1777, the Concerto In E Flat Major for two pianos technically counts as being the tenth of Mozart's twenty-seven concertos, that huge and prodigious body that would set the standards for all piano concertos from Mozart's time forward. Although it is not performed with the same frequency as his later works (especially the final eight concertos, 20-27), this "Double" piano concerto, believed to have been composed by Mozart for performance by him and his sister Maria Anna ("Nannerl"), is nevertheless a fascinating experiment of Mozart's, one that requires a pair of solid keyboard virtuosos to do (and for the composer's Seventh piano concerto, you needed three soloists). Fortunately on this 1984 Teldec recording, we have the required two keyboard virtuosos, both of whom come from very divergent musical backgrounds. Austrian-born pianist Friedrich Gulda came from a classical music background and began exploring jazz later on in his life; while Chick Corea is one of the best-known pianists in American jazz music, and, like fellow jazz musicians Wynton Marsalis and Herbie Hancock, developed a great feel for classical music.
The sixth disc in this highly acclaimed series combine two works in which Mozart's powers as an orchestrator come to the fore. Concerto No. 18 in B flat major, K 456, is sometimes referred to as one of the composers military concertos on the basis of the march-like main theme of the first movement. But more striking is the variety of ways that Mozart employs the various groups of instruments: strings, wind instruments and, of course, the piano. This aspect certainly didn't pass unnoticed by a listener as initiated as Mozart's father Leopold: in a letter to his daughter Nannerl he described how his enjoyment of the orchestral interplay had brought tears to his eyes.