When Mozart took up the popular genre of the serenade, it was to transcend it and lend it new lustre. A festive masterpiece of simplicity and emotion, his Gran Partita quickly became a genuine ‘hit’! Thanks to the distinctive, spellbinding timbres of their period instruments, the members of the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin give a unique flavour to these two extraordinary serenades, over which there blows – as it were – a tremendous wind of freedom.
Considering that Mozart's Divertimento in E-flat is far and away the greatest string trio ever written, and one of the unquestionable monuments of chamber music generally, it doesn't get the attention that it surely deserves from either record labels or collectors. Perhaps the dearth of regularly constituted string trios (as opposed to quartets) has something to do with it, but the fact remains that there is no greater testament to Mozart's genius than this epic, nearly 50-minute-long masterpiece in six movements that contains not a second that fails to rise to the highest level of textural gorgeousness and supreme melodic inspiration. Happily, most performances understand how special the music is, and give it their best effort. This one is no exception. The Zimmerman Trio plays with remarkably accurate intonation and a ravishing tone that's also mindful of the Classical style. Schubert's single-movement trio makes the perfect coupling. It seems to grow right out of the Mozart until the end of the exposition, when Schubert suddenly sails in with some typically arresting harmony.