Mozart: Piano Quartets

Daniel Barenboim / Michael Barenboim / Yulia Deyneka / Kian Soltani

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Mozart: Piano Quartets Review

by James Manheim

This release features Daniel Barenboim, a superb Mozart pianist to be sure, joined by three of his protégés from his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. It has no right to work as well as it does: one-off chamber projects tend to be inferior to performances by well-established chamber groups, and the dominant figure in such groupings has to either rein in the energy or dominate. But this one cooks. Partly it's the presence of a family grouping: violinist Michael Barenboim is the pianist's son. And Daniel has worked closely with all these musicians for some years. But it's more than that: the balance involved in the Mozart piano quartets is unlike that involved in almost any other work by Mozart. They lie halfway between concerto and chamber music, and the big first movements are accordingly quite intricately constructed. Although they're not especially late Mozart works, they give a hint of where his music might have gone had he lived into the age of Hummel and Beethoven. Sample either of the nearly 15-minute opening movements, which give Daniel room to develop the performance and to shape the direction of the music (which the keyboardist should), and to bring the three string players distinctively into the action. Factor in lively sound on Deutsche Grammophon's part from the new Pierre Boulez Saal in Berlin, and you have a superior Mozart chamber music release.

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