Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
No. 1 in G minor K. 478 (1785)
III. Rondo. Allegro moderato
No. 2 in E flat major K. 493 (1786)
Mozart’s Piano Quartets date from the mid 1780s – a period that also brought, among many other things, five of his major piano concerti (D minor K. 466; C major K. 467; E flat major K. 482; A major K. 488 & C minor K. 491), two important string quartets (including the Dissonance K. 465), and his opera Le nozze di Figaro.
While there were earlier incursions by less well-remembered figures into the piano quartet repertoire, it took Mozart to raise its status on to an unprecedented plateau. In his two quartets he found a way of giving each instrument - violin, viola, cello and piano - its rightful sense of independence.
According to the composer’s own catalogue, the K. 478 Quartet was completed on 16th October 1785 and was among a number of works requested by the Viennese publisher, Franz Anton Hoffmeister, who was also a composer. In it Mozart treats his four instrumentalists as equals, with the concerto-like piano part well balanced against the continuously interesting string writing.
However, Hoffmeister, hoping for something to suit the amateur market, was dissatisfied with what Mozart submitted, complaining the music was too difficult and that the public would never buy it. He told the composer to write in a more popular vein or else he would neither print anything further of his nor pay him. The disgruntled Mozart responded, “Then I will write nothing more, and grow hungry or maybe the devil take me!” But he did write another Piano Quartet, completing it on 3rd June 1786. This time the more obliging firm of Artaria published it.
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Finghin Collins, piano
One of Ireland’s most successful musicians and significant musical ambassadors, Finghin Collins was born in Dublin in 1977 and, following initial lessons with his sister Mary, studied piano at the Royal Irish Academy of Music with John O’Conor and at the Geneva Conservatoire with Dominique Merlet. His international career was launched by winning first prize at the Clara Haskil International Piano Competition in Switzerland in 1999. He has performed in recital and with major orchestras throughout Europe and the United States, as well as in the Far East and Australia. In October 2017, the National University of Ireland conferred on him an honorary Degree of Doctor of Music.
In 2019 Finghin performs in the UK, Denmark, the USA, Italy, Switzerland, Russia, Turkey and undertakes an extensive Irish recital tour marking 20 years since his Clara Haskil Prize. The year 2020 will see solo, chamber and concerto performances of Beethoven across Europe to mark the composer’s 250th anniversary, as well as many other projects and collaborations.
Over the past two decades Collins has retained strong ties to Switzerland, performing regularly at festivals and recital series, particularly in the western French-speaking part of the country. He has also maintained a close relationship with Claves Records, recording many award-winning CDs of music by Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann and Stanford. A Chopin recital CD was released in September 2017, a co-production between RTÉ lyric fm and Claves Records.
Finghin Collins also makes a significant contribution to the musical landscape of his native Ireland, where he resides. Since 2013, he has been Artistic Director of Music for Galway, which will present the major classical programme of Galway 2020, European Capital of Culture. He is also the founding Artistic Director of the New Ross Piano Festival, which celebrates its 15th edition in 2020, as well as the founding co-Artistic Director of the International Master Course at the National Concert Hall in Dublin.