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W.A Mozart:
The piano trios based on the autograph

Vienna Mozart Trio

The newly released CD of all works for the piano trio by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is based on decades of performance experience of the Vienna Mozart Trio and the composer's original handwriting. For the first time, all errors in the popular editions have been corrected. The recordings took place in the "Wavegarden" studio in Lower Austria between February and April 2018, and the finished album was released as a double CD in autumn 2021 by Gramola.


Alternative versions

In the manuscript, Mozart sometimes noted alternative ways of playing a passage. None of these "Ossia" versions ever made it into an interpretation by established ensembles. On the left you can see a) and b) at the end of the E major piano trio KV 542. Of course, the Vienna Mozart Trio implemented all of these new versions in the interpretation.

Dactylus here, Appogiatura there - and how was that again with the suggestions?

Even the so-called "Urtext" editions did not respect Mozart's own entries. They expanded dynamics, changed arcs of articulation - and ignored Mozart's differentiated spelling of the sixteenth notes. Although Mozart used the South German spelling in the grace notes (and sometimes double strikethrough), we only ever find sixteenth-note suggestions printed

The square piano has horizontal strings that are arranged diagonally above the hammers in the rectangular housing. The keyboard is now on the long run  Side, the soundboard over a recess along the short side. It is variously ascribed to Silbermann and Frederici and was improved by von Petzold and Babcock. The overwhelming popularity of his instruments was due to their simple construction and the associated low price.

Since  For about ten years I have been regularly on stage with my parents Irina and Diethard Auner in Europe's most important centers of chamber music. The Vienna Mozart Trio was founded in 1991 and, nomen est omen, played Mozart's piano trios continuously in hundreds of concerts around the world.

One of my last recording projects, the CD "Dialogue with Mozart" (in the shop  buy )   three sonatas for piano and violin, which were performed together with the British pianist Robin Green on  Salzburg Mozarteum were already dedicated to the chamber music of Mozart. Even then, we spent countless hours at the library of the Mozarteum University in Salzburg to check the manuscripts - and to compare them with the "Urtext" editions by Bärenreiter and the "New Mozart Edition" that are common today. The differences between autograph, first edition and NMA were very clear, we very often asked ourselves why our game tradition today deviates so far from the text that is actually available.

One of the first noticeable things about Autograph is the different arrangement of the instruments in the notation system. The violin at the top, the piano in the middle - and the cello only below the piano part. I wonder why? The pianos and harpsichords in Mozart's time were very small, Mozart himself had his instrument transported very often. As a result, the trio also played in a different seating arrangement, the cello on the left - and the violin on the right, probably standing in front of the piano. Due to the small size of the instrument, the piano lacked a strong bass sound - the cello was therefore mostly used to reinforce the left piano hand.

We played some concert in the Museum of Musical Instruments in Brussels. Before the collection moved into the new exhibition rooms (and the valuable instruments disappeared in glass cases) we were invited to play on them.

The fortepiano was something very special and expensive. It has leather-covered hammers and thin, harpsichord-like strings. It has a much lighter case construction than the modern piano (apart from later examples from the early 19th century). The mechanics and hammers are lighter, which results in a much easier attack that is also very responsive on well-designed fortepiano. Mozart writes his trios (depending on who gave the order and which instrument this person had) for "pianoforte" or "harpsichord".

In view of this instrumentation, many questions that arise when looking at the manuscripts answer themselves automatically. For example, why Mozart sometimes did not write dynamics. A harpsichord did not have many dynamic possibilities. The difference between legato and separately played notes was also almost inaudible. I remember when I recorded the violin sonatas that Mozart, as a violinist, wrote very precise lines that should not be changed, if not necessarily not. Often the second time he repeated a measure with different strokes than the first time. The unusual upstroke on the first note of a second measure needed less emphasis than the same note on the first measure. Musical period; 1st measure strong, 2nd measure easy, 3rd measure strong (but less than 1st) and 4th measure the lightest of all.

If we look at the instruments of the time, we shouldn't consider the trios with a fortepiano, A = 421.6 Hz  record with string instruments on gut strings etc.?

Well we could. But we would not be satisfied with the result. In our opinion, a good pianist can play much better legatas and phrasing as well as dynamic differences on a well-adjusted modern grand piano than the best fortepiano player - the instrument becomes a handicap. Imagine bringing Mozart into our time and letting him play a new Bösendorfer, Fazioli or Steinway grand piano. What would his reaction be? I think he would be very happy that we have instruments on hand today that can soundly trigger even more emotions than he would have ever dreamed of. The development of the piano from the harpsichord to today's concert grand was based on the needs of the composers and their works. In the Ehrbar-Palais in Vienna there is a copper engraving on the wall, a quote from Franz Liszt; He says how happy he is to have finally found an instrument that can withstand a full concert. In terms of interpretation, however, we have to keep an eye on the original instrumentation, especially when it comes to phrasing etc.


First print is sometimes available just digitally on the website of the nma, Neue Mozart Ausgabe

The famous library of the Mozarteum in Salzburg. All handwritings and first prints can be found here

At Mozarts time the stringed instruments used a hammerhead bow. I had the privilege to play several performances on Mozarts own bow.

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