Notes and Editorial Reviews
Affectionate and musically very aware accounts of two beautiful works.
These are affectionate and musically very aware accounts of two beautiful works. Steven Lubin's piano, built by R.J. Regier after a Walter instrument (the make Mozart used) of about 1785, is— at least as captured on this recording—softer in tone and milder in attack than most fortepianos of the period that I have heard, and this helps impart an unusual warmth to the performances, which is further enhanced by the quite exceptional smoothness and sweetness, not to say the graceful phrasing, of Stanley Ritchie's playing on his period violin and the gentle resonance of Myron Lutzke's cello.
The players' readiness of response to the music
is unmistakeable, and it gives rise to many felicities—in, for example, the long lines of the first movement of K493 or the alert detail in the K478 Andante. Sometimes, however, it seems to lead to performances that do not quite come fully to grips with the music, through the softening of climaxes or, perhaps particularly, the loss of momentum. Steven Lubin makes a good deal of rubato, which sometimes sounds slightly mannered and is not always done in the Mozartian way (that is, as Mozart himself specified, within a strict pulse). In the finale of K493, for example, the music doesn't often really seem to get going, and when it does it soon relaxes again; this applies especially in the dialogue passages, where Lubin's anxiety to illuminate each phrase is apt to be self-defeating. He also has a tendency to spread or roll chords to make an expressive point, more often than to some listeners might seem tasteful. There are a lot of tiny hesitations to make musical points, again perhaps more than desirable in the interest of sustaining the momentum of a movement. One senses a certain impetuosity in his playing and some want of discipline and control in his handling of rhythm from time to time.
These performances are, however, alternatives well worth considering to the Archiv Produktion disc by Malcolm Bilson and his English Baroque Soloists colleagues, the richer and better recorded of the existing versions. Bilson's tempos tend to be on the deliberate side, and these are serious, large-scale readings; the Mozartean Players' performances are more relaxed—though, I should add, not without strong and powerful things (listen for example to the development of the first movement of the G minor work). My preference remains with the Bilson version, but anyone looking for rather gentler performances, which perhaps make more of the individual, passing beauties of these works as opposed to their breadth and grandeur, will find much to enjoy in this new issue.
-- Stanley Sadie, Gramophone [3/1991]
reviewing the original release of these performances, HM 907018
Works on This Recording
Quartet for Piano and Strings no 1 in G minor, K 478 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Stanley Ritchie (Violin),
Myron Lutzke (Cello),
David Miller (Viola),
Steven Lubin (Fortepiano)
Written: 1785; Vienna, Austria
Piano Quartet in E-Flat Major K. 493: I. Allegro
Piano Quartet in E-Flat Major K. 493: II. Larghetto
Piano Quartet in E-Flat Major K. 493: III. Allegretto
Piano Quartet in G Minor K. 478: I. Allegro
Piano Quartet in G Minor K. 478: II. Andante
Piano Quartet in G Minor K. 478: III. Rondo
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