Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Complete Piano Trios
Divertimento KV 254 in B major (1776) [22:28]
Piano Trio KV 496 in G major (1786) [23:49]
Piano Trio KV 502 in B major (1786) [21:52]
Piano Trio KV 542 in E major (1788) [20:25]
Piano Trio KV 548 in C major (1788) [21:27]
Piano Trio KV 564 in G major (1788) [17:36]
Jean Fournier (violin), Antonio Janigro (cello), Paul Badura-Skoda (piano)
rec. c. 1954, Vienna
FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR1292-93 [68:12 + 59:30]
This isn’t the first time that these c.1953-54 recordings have been restored. Pristine Audio did the honours several years ago on PACM032 and 033, available separately. And the trio itself was gainfully employed in the studios, recording a swathe of the chamber literature primarily for Westminster. Their Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert and Brahms trio recordings are well worth a listen and in sympathetic restorations such as Pristine’s and here by Forgotten Records they take on renewed life. If your curiosity extends to mono era Mozart trios, and this cycle was in many ways a pioneering one as the Mozart trios were rather poorly treated on disc in the 1940s and 50s, then your appetite may well be whetted by the prospect of this notable trio’s recordings. Jean Fournier, Antonio Janigro and Paul Badura-Skoda recorded as a group between around 1953 and 1957. Fournier, older brother of the more famous Pierre, also had a duo with his excellent pianist wife Ginette Doyen – I’ve long been waiting for their Beethoven sonata cycle to be reissued – but he also recorded with André Collard, principally on Vega, a pairing that FR has fortunately also reissued (see review).
The Mozart trios receive perceptive and understanding performances. Fournier never evinced the rather abrasive tonal qualities of some of his French contemporaries, an impression exacerbated by the clinical nature of some French studio recordings of the time. His sweet tone is warmed by a cannily varied vibrato though occasionally it brings with it a slight nasal insistence. He essays some piquant slides in the Allegro of K542 and his exchanges with Badura-Skoda in the finale of K548 are airy and deft. Throughout he phrases with well-characterised eloquence. Badura-Skoda anchors things at the piano, proving rhythmically crisp but flexible. He’s taut in K254, proves sparkling in the Allegro of K496 and is especially invigorating in the variations of its long finale. In fact, he is a most resilient throughout, and at his most elegant in K542.
This leaves Janigro, who is unfortunately under-recorded. Sometimes his solo lines come through well enough as in the answering phrases of the slow movement of K496 but he has been backwardly placed to such an extent that his contributions are prone to be watery. Certainly, the cello has a subsidiary role in the trios but not to such an extent as this.
This is an inherent vagary of the recording and nothing can really be done about it unless an interventionist approach is employed. Pristine Audio often boosts sound to compensate for deficiencies in balancing but they are in a decided minority. Forgotten Records has transferred these discs very well, expertly disguising a couple of minor imperfections very well. There are no notes.
Whatever the limitations of this recording, the Fournier-Janigro-Badura-Skoda trio flew the flag nobly for the trio repertoire in the mid-fifties and their recordings deserve to be remembered.