Classical Music Home

Welcome to Naxos Records

Email Password  
Not a subscriber yet?  
Keyword Search
 Classical Music Home > Naxos Album Reviews

Album Reviews

See latest reviews of other albums...

WETA, February 2011

The trios on this recording all date from 1788, three years before the composer’s death; they are of the same vintage as the three last symphonies, including the Jupiter Symphony. The final selection, given the Köchel catalog number 442, challenges the definition of “composed by Mozart.” The composer left this trio not as a complete, or even coherent, composition. It’s made up of (probably) unrelated fragments, sometimes single lines of music, that were completed and compiled by Abbé Maximiliam Stadler. This parish priest from Melk claimed to be acquainted with, and to have played music with, both Mozart and Haydn. He was requested by Mozart’s widow Constanze, in 1798, to take charge of a variety of manuscripts left by the composer. This trio is his best guess at how Mozart might have completed and assembled these bits and pieces of music for piano trio.

Jerry Dubins
Fanfare, July 2009

This may well be the shortest entry I’ve ever submitted; for assuming that my review of Volume 1 of the Kungsbacka’s Mozart piano trios appeared in the 32:5 issue, there’s little to add. The current Volume 2 completes this ensemble’s run of Mozart’s six official trios for violin, cello, and piano, filling out the disc with an additional three-movement trio cobbled together by the Abbé Maximilian Stadler from fragmentary odds and ends that were probably intended for other pieces.

To restate what I said in my previous review, “The Kungsbacka Trio is a modern-instruments ensemble, but it plays stylishly and tastefully. Translation: articulation is crisp, vibrato is minimal, tempos are spirited in allegro movements and forward moving in andante movements, open strings are not avoided, and first movement exposition repeats are taken. For those who don’t already have one or more versions of these trios in their collections and/or who are not uncompromising advocates for period instruments, the Kungsbacka Trio can be recommended for very fine playing, and Naxos’s recording, at a price that can’t be beat, is excellent.”

Now that this cycle is complete, it definitely vies for equal favor with other preferred versions by the Florestan, Parnassus, and Gryphon Trios. And at budget price, it possibly edges them out slightly. Strongly recommended.

Nalen Anthoni
Gramophone, May 2009

Nothing routine about these absorbing performances from an enlightened trio

Circumscribed Mozart this is not. The Kungsbacka Piano Trio avoid the dispassionate literalism of so-called authenticity. They are musicians of enlightened individual and collective probity who incorporate stylistic niceties into interpretations that are all the more authentic for being authentically felt, and absorbingly communicated. Pianist Simon Crawford-Phillips has the leading role in the music but he does not dominate the proceedings. Get over the initial regret of hearing him smooth out the surprise inherent in Mozart’s fractured phrasing of the opening melody of K542, and follow an artist who creates tension not through a drily percussive attack but through a weight of expression shared equally between both hands; and with a control of instrumental colour and nuance, also a characteristic of his partners Malin Broman and Jesper Svedberg.

No routine note-spinning here. Consider the tasteful decorations in the first-movement exposition repeat of K548, the thoughtfully questing consideration for its development beginning in G minor, the lyrical, affective interplay in the Andante cantabile and the microscopic rubatos discreetly sprinkled in the Allegro finale to stop a descent into mechanical glibness. Consider too how a similar level of artistry is carried over into K564, hushed at the beginning of the D minor section in the first movement with the finale’s “swing” of 6/8 appropriately captured. And vigilance isn’t relaxed for K442 either though Maximilian Stadler’s completions of these fragments aren’t always of Mozartian quality. The cello may sometimes be a touch backward but, otherwise, recording quality is very good.

Giv Cornfield
The New Recordings, Cliffs Classics, February 2009

This excellent group’s previous trio recording was a joy, and so is this! Moreover, K.442, reconstructed from separate movements by Mozart’s friend Maximilian Stadler, is a rare delight. This group of young musicians bring sparkling virtuosity combined with a deep sense of style, the whole captured in very life-like audio.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, February 2009

With his training as a pianist and violinist, it is strange that Mozart should have written just six works for piano trio, the last three composed more in desperation to earn money than out of choice. Having much welcomed the Kungsbacka Piano Trio’s disc of the first two issued on Naxos last November [8.570518], I am pleased that the last three are equally successful—the remaining trio, not included, being for piano, clarinet and viola. The young British group have created an impressive career following their success in the prestigious Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition, touring concert venues on both sides of the Atlantic promoted by the European Concert Hall Organization ‘Rising Stars’ series. Though often admired, the trios offer the pianist far more of musical value, than their colleagues and these immaculately played performances do not try to conceal that fact. Their view is straightforward compared with the affectionate recorded accounts from their UK counterparts, the Floristan Trio, though Simon Crawford-Phillips’s piano exudes so much joy in the finale of the Fifth and the opening of the Sixth that it rather wins the day for the Kungsbacka. They also have the advantage of including a trio brought together by Maximilian Stadler from fragments that he found. Heretic though I may be, I do find it more satisfying than those Mozart completed, if for no other reason than it is for three equal voices, and  the Kungsbacka appear to agree with playing that is vivacious and ideally balanced. My sole reservation—as with the first volume—comes in the engineering where I would have wished that the piano had been more closely bonded with the strings.

Naxos Records, a member of the Naxos Music Group