Mozart Trios on Fortepiano

The Rautio Piano Trio made their Resonus Classics recording debut in 2016 with a disc of three piano trios by Mozart – trios in B flat major (KV 502), in E major (KV 542) and in G major (KV 564).

The Trio perform here on period instruments – including a fortepiano that once belonged to the late Christopher Hogwood CBE. This critically acclaimed debut disc received multiple 4 and 5 star reviews, was hailed by the Observer as ‘an impressive achievement’ and is frequently played on BBC Radio 3, most recently for Composer of the Week (2019).

The Rautio Trio currently offer classical period programmes on fortepiano and are due to begin recording the complete cycle of Beethoven Trios in 2020. The Trio will also be offering later 19th century repertoire on an Erard piano next season.

Mozart’s piano trio don’t come out to play as often as Haydn’s, despite being among his finest chamber works […] So a new recording of any or all of them is always to be welcomed. This disc adds interest by being performed on period instruments, making it something of a rarity in this repertoire. The ear is immediately struck by the fortepiano, a 1987 Derek Adlam copy of an Anton Walter instrument from the mid-1790s, which formerly belonged to Christopher Hogwood. It’s beautifully set up, and remarkably little action-noise is captured in the Potton Hall recording. As delightful as it is to listen to, it is evidently a joy to play, and Jan Rautio leads performances notable for their buoyancy and vivacity.

Gramophone

Barely does a disc come along that unexpectedly brings so much pleasure as this one [..] from the opening notes, I just knew it was a total winner. The balance between the three instruments is beautifully handled (the cello only sometimes emerges from its bass line duties), and the gorgeous tone Jane Gordon gets especially from the upper reaches of her violin is absolutely to die for. The three works on the disc only last just under an hour, but what an hour! According to the booklet note, the Rautio Piano Trio also play modern repertoire on suitable instruments, so they are clearly a force to be reckoned with. I hope they and Resonus will continue to explore period performances of some less well-known pieces for the line-up, too – fabulous recordings, magical performances.

Early Music Review (5 stars)

The Rautio Piano Trio’s growing reputation will only be enhanced by this, their debut recording of three Mozartian jewels. This might be comparatively mainstream repertoire but they approach it with a gratifying freshness that avoids the routine. The use of period instruments affords each work a transparency of timbre, and judicious tempo choices ensure that the performances avoid difficulties of balance that can weigh down modern instrument alternatives, like Haydn Trio Eisenstadt (Capriccio). Trio Parnassus (MDG) largely avoid that problem but are occasionally pedestrian. No such issues affect the Beaux Arts Trio’s 1960s readings (Decca). The Rautios confidently sit alongside them. Rhythmically alert allegros and nuanced allegrettos allow the gut-strung violin of Jane Gordon and Jan Rautio’s fortepiano to draw the listener in. Natural, well balanced recorded sound.

Classical Ear (5 stars)

‘That fortepiano is the key to one of the chief pleasures of this recording. The natural lightness & clarity of the sound and the effortless balance with the period strings, never overwhelming them. These delightful works don’t get out often enough.’

BBC Radio 3 Record Review

‘Pianist Jan Rautio here plays a fortepiano (tuned to A=430 Hz in unequal temperament), with the string players using gut strings and lighter, shorter bows. The result is playing of great agility and intimacy which immediately solves some of the balance problems in Mozart’s trios when played on a modern grand, especially in accompanying figures. It’s an impressive achievement, a disc to return to often.’

The Observer (4 stars)

[…] the sheer joy and bounce of the performances win through. […] there’s a natural flexibility that’s refreshing, a gentle way with ornaments (some written, others not) and, especially as K542’s finale launches into its triplet passages, an infectious sense of toe-tapping delight. Most enjoyable, then, and the recorded sound is clear and engaging too.’

The Strad Magazine

‘This is the debut release from the Rautio Piano Trio, and it’s an assured debut indeed. […] There’s plenty of cheerful Mozartian melodic lines passing around the ensemble that can’t help but bring a smile to one’s face.’

Limelight, Australia (4 stars)

‘The Rautio piano trio breathe new life into this music in committed performances on period instruments’

Lark Reviews

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