Christoph Ehrenfellner / Herbert Müller / Adalbert Skocic

Mozart & Beethoven: Streichtrios

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This resolutely unhip Austrian release could have, in its approach and look, been made 40 or 50 years ago. It's also an exceptionally good example of its type. Violinist Christoph Ehrenfellner, violist Herbert Müller, and cellist Adalbert Skocic give no sign of being anything other than a chamber group of long experience playing together. There's no shortage of recordings of Mozart's Divertimento for string trio in E flat major, K. 563, but the group gives a taut, precise reading that fits the work very well and merits strong consideration from anyone in the market for a recording of this late Mozart masterpiece. You might wonder whether it's justifiable to speak of a "late" style in the work of someone who died at age 36, but this Divertimento, anything but the light work its title might imply, actually has a mix of contrapuntal rigor and folkish melodic simplicity that's similar to Beethoven's late style. The Austrian musicians here capture the complexity lurking behind its simple themes, and they're not without a certain impish humor in doing so. Sample the Andante variation movement (track 4), where an absurdly simple theme leads into a dazzling exploration of trio texture that challenges all three players. The Beethoven Serenade for string trio, Op. 8, is a much lighter work, and the players don't try to get more out of it than is actually there. A very strong entry from the Preiser label, best known for its historical reissues.

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