|Isabelle Quéïnnec said:|
The Borsarello string trio was founded in 1993 by three brothers, former pupils of the National Superior Conservatory of Music in Paris.
These Preludes and Fugues, arranged for string trio during the early 1780s, form an important part of the relatively limited string trio repertoire. Although frequently played, they are nevertheless rarely recorded. Until recently these arrangements of works originally intended for keyboard were attributed to W.A. Mozart, yet they are usually ignored in biographies of this composer, and classed in catalogues as being of doubtful authenticity.
During Mozart's early Viennese years, as well as being strongly influenced by the older classical master Haydn, the younger composer also showed a keen interest in the musical techniques of the high baroque. He had been introduced to this music by his most important patron, the Baron Gottfried Van Swieten, who can thus be said to have played an important part in Mozart's own personal musical development.
Van Swieten himself is said to have acquired a taste for the music of Bach and Haendel during his time as ambassador to Berlin. On his recall to Vienna in 1777 he was named Prefect of the Imperial library, a post which gave him access to a plentiful supply of manuscripts and scores, which he endeavoured to make known to Viennese musicians, through regular performances, held on Sundays, at his home, at noon.
Mozart's letters to his father Leopold show that he was at this time a frequent attender and participant in these music-making sessions. It was no doubt for performance at these private concerts that he arranged five fugues from the Well Tempered Clavier for string quartet, adding original Preludes in a solemn, yet personal style (K 405). In the same way, he added an original Prelude to his own fugue for two pianos (K 426) to form the famous Adagio and Fugue in C minor for strings (K 546). A few years later, he re-orchestrated several important works by Haendel, including the Messiah, again for concerts organised by Van Swieten.
Mozart's intuitive understanding of the music of the past, and his mastery of contrapuntal technique enabled him to make use of it in his own music in a purely personal way. The Molto allegro finale of the first of the six quartets in G major (K 387) consists of a magnificent fugue, in a purely classical, rather than baroque, style. The finale of the Jupiter symphony (K.551) is equally celebrated as a true festival of counterpoint.
However, the arrangements recorded here, although no doubt intended for performance at the same Sunday concert series, cannot be said to integrate the baroque and classical styles in the same way. Even the four Preludes which remain anonymous show no trace of the inimitable Mozartian manner. Musicologists no longer consider them to have been made by Mozart himself. Of course, this in no way diminishes the value of the music itself or the historical interest of this fascinating insight into the baroque world as seen from a classical point of view.
A unique and exquisitely beautiful recording. I have always enjoyed transcriptions of Bach's keyboard works for strings and these are particularly excellent; played with sensitivity, clarity and outstanding musicianship by the Borsarello Trio. A real treasure in my collection.