Gabriela Díaz / Alexei Gonzales / Byron Schenkman

Mozart: Piano Trios

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Mozart's piano trios begin to bridge the gap between the older treatment of piano solo with string accompaniment and what was to become the complete independence of parts achieved by Beethoven's time. This Centaur album features the bookends of Mozart's contributions along this continuum. It begins with the B flat major Divertimento, K. 254, Mozart's first composition for this instrumental configuration. The program then jumps to the Trio in E major, K. 542, and proceeds with his final three piano trios. While listeners will notice the gradual liberation of the strings from servitude to the piano, the cello never quite breaks free from its more submissive role as it does with later composers. Performing here are pianist Byron Schenkman, violinist Gabriela Díaz, and Alexei Yupanqui Gonzales. Of the three, Schenkman's playing comes across as the most "Mozartian": playful, spontaneous, clean, and elegant. The two string players do not quite manage to imitate Schenkman's style, instead favoring a heavier, more Romantic approach with overused vibrato, slides into shifts, and a heavier sound quality. While either method could make for a convincing performance, the two contrasting sensibilities juxtaposed into a single performance is less appealing and leaves listeners wishing the trio was able to produce a unified concept in one direction or the other.

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