The Beaux Arts Trio's set of of Mozart trios have been go-to recordings since they were first released in the late 1960's, however, just like their highly regarded recordings of the Beethoven and Haydn trios, I've found the Beaux Arts' Mozart to be a little too refined. Indeed, the ensemble playing is impeccable, every note is perfectly positioned and the Mozartian spirit is certainly there, but some of it sounds almost precious in places. The Haydn Trio Eisenstadt produced outstanding sets of the Haydn and Beethoven trios and I was planning to acquire their Mozart set until concern over the hard-edged sound of the piano in the samples I listened to pointed me in the direction of the Trio Parnassus.
The Trio Parnassus readings of the Mozart trios are both spirited and refined, and unlike the sometimes annoying Beaux Arts, they are beautiful without being pretty. Essentially, these are performances that sound modern and balanced and feature exemplary recorded sound. There are many things I like, but the G major trio (K496) especially claimed my attention. The only thing that keeps me from awarding five stars is an occasional lack of inspiration. While nothing is bland, I do feel that a spark is missing here and there, perhaps because this appears to be one of the Trio's earliest recordings (1990). They have gone on to record prodigiously for MGD and, unlike many of their competitors in the chamber music field, are still together today.
Warmly recommended: four and a half stars.