I cannot praise highly enough the contributions of pianist Andras Schiff to the world of recorded chamber music. Words rather escape me when it comes to his set of Haydn Piano Trios, joined by violinist Yuuko Shiokawa and cellist Boris Pergamenschikow. Haydn's Piano Trios, along with Mozart's Piano Quartets, are the incomparable masterpieces of the entire chamber music repertoire. Andras Schiff and company give these Haydn Trios the freshest, most lovingly singing, gloriously rewarding performances one can ever hope to hear. Fortunately, they were treated to Decca's very best recording quality, which Eloquence repeats with their reissue. These were recorded in 1994 and there is no mention of (or need for) a new remastering here.
Oddly, Eloquence has issued them in two separate volumes (both in 2014). Surely a 2-fer would have made more economical sense, especially as Eloquence is known for its 2-fers. But never mind. The fact that we have both discs is cause for rejoicing, for they are among the supreme glories of recorded chamber music.
Schiff is featured in another superb Eloquence disc, which includes his 1981 recording of Mozart's Quintet for Piano and Winds. While, at first, I thought it would have been interesting and logical to have Schiff's recordings of the Piano Quartets here as well, instead Eloquence provides Previn's 1982 recordings of them with Members of the Musikverein Quartet. The reason for this may simply be that Schiff utilized a fortepiano in his recording of the Piano Quartets, with a nod toward "authentic" playing practices. Perhaps it was felt those recordings may have not been the best match for his Quintet, in which he uses a modern piano. Whatever the reason, I have no complaints, as Previn's versions are wonderful.
True to form, Andras Schiff is glorious in the Wind Quintet. He is matched every step of the way here by the outstanding wind players and by Decca's best recording. Indeed, they elevate this piece to a level of excellence in Beethoven's output previously unrealized.
In the Quartets, Andre Previn also proves to be a very accomplished pianist. This music-making is equally stylish, energetic, involving and very well played. Perhaps the very last ounce of sheer joyfulness found in the very best recordings of these splendid quartets is slightly minimized here, but there is so much to enjoy, I have no complaints.
The sound on this Eloquence reissue is exceptional - the 1994 digital recording of the quartets is every bit as good as the 1981 analog/remastered sound in the quintet. And with 76 minutes of the highest quality music-making, I recommend this disc with boundless enthusiasm to all lovers of Mozart chamber music.