This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.
Notes and Editorial Reviews
The temptation for the recording engineer to highlight the playing of the most illustrious player in a chamber group must be very great indeed, although this might not always ensure that the music is conveyed in a balanced way. The problem with any recording of Mozart's sublime duos for violin and viola is that one notes that most violists tend to shirk any idea of aspiring to be an equal partner. Such humility does not become these works. Thus, in the Grumiaux/Pelliccia version (Philips), not only is the viola nasally-toned and largely inaudible, but the Belgian violinist completely outplays his fellow musician. Lubotsky and Imai (also Philips) are better matched in this respect, and of the three violists it is Imai who is the most adept
at providing a bass-oriented sonority so as to effectively counterbalance the violin. Gidon Kremer's style is quite close to that of Lubotsky, but he manages to phrase with greater sophistication and a more profound grasp of the sheer stature of the music. Kashkashian is too content to play an accompanying role in the duos, though all she does is musically sensitive (she is placed fractionally backward in the recordings).
The E flat Trio, K498 features wonderfully cultivated playing, but the balance again bothers me. On the CD the piano is too full-toned and dominant, whilst on the LP it is curiously lacking in focus. The result is that on the LP one hears the precision of the violin part much more clearly. Valery Afanassiev, who often partners Kremer in recital, is superb at colouring his part. He has mastered the pianissimo range of the piano as have few of his contemporaries; it is when he is playing mezzo forte or louder that he outgrows the contained instrumental sound suitable for Mozart. This is a midjudgement by the engineers.
I do not want to detract from the purely musical merits of this release. Gidon Kremer is one of the great violinists of our time and it is the violin that plays a crucial role in all of these works. Even if Kim Kashkashian is a little too much in awe of him, she is no sense diminishes the effect of the music.
-- James Methuen-Campbell, Gramophone [1/1986]
Works on This Recording
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