This disc,originally published in 1986 and re-released here at a lower price, is a well-recorded coupling of two popular works from major composers. The Mozart quintet was thought by Mozart to be one of his best works at the time and represents the composer at a mature stage. The Beethoven is also a fine composition and written while still a young man at the earlier stage in his career. Despite this disparity in terms of relative maturity, both works are skilfully written and enjoyable to hear.
In this case the players drawn from the English Chamber orchestra plus Murray Perahia on piano, are all well-respected and expert players in their own right. Perahia is renowned for his fine set of the Mozart piano concertos with the same orchestra so a real working partnership is revisited here and this mutual ease is apparent in these two performances.
There is some difference of opinion as regards the merits of the two performances with some finding the performances, although well-played technically, to be a little bland emotionally or interpretively. My suspicion is that this partly stems from the mutual ease of performance resulting from the regularity of making music together as described above. In my opinion these performances still deliver a very satisfying level of musical pleasure even in the light of many years of repeated listening. It is true that the sheer vibrancy of say, the coupling of Kremer and Argerich in the Beethoven violin sonatas is missing, but so is any suggestion of shallowness resulting from immature performers who have yet to delve below the surface of the written notes.
I would suggest that this is a very useful pairing of two not dissimilar works which are well-played and recorded and which capture musical colleagues who are very easy with each other and deliver a thoughtfully balanced way of playing. This is not as dull as it may seem or as some have suggested. Nor is as gripping as has been suggested by others. What it delivers is a middle of the road and safe interpretation that is well-played, well recorded and will be musically rewarding over years and perhaps survive long after other more excitable performances have passed on by.
This is therefore a carefully considered approach to these two works which may become more valued as reliably satisfying over repeated listening. As such I would suggest that they merit equally careful consideration.