two Piano Trios are amongst his greatest works, contrasted
both within themselves and between each other although
written within weeks of each other. The B flat has a superficially
contented character at the start, but even here clouds
seem to come across the sky at increasingly frequent intervals.
The E flat is a more obviously dramatic work throughout,
and the curiously ambiguous march of the slow movement
is surely some of the most inspired music Schubert ever
wrote. They should be in any collection, and the attractions
of including them on one disc are obvious. However this
cannot be done without a price. The repeats of both first
movements and one from the Scherzo of the E flat Trio are
omitted. Personally I find this regrettable but not necessarily
fatal – you may feel otherwise in which case there are
many alternatives involving two discs, but such omissions
were at one time the norm. It would be a pity to deprive
yourself of the pleasure of hearing the present disc purely
because of this.
disc comes from ArtistLed, the creation of the pianist
and cellist, who apparently not only played but also acted
as producers and involved themselves in the whole process
of producing the disc. The many various decisions which
this must have involved were certainly well made, and it
is rare to hear a disc of chamber music, especially of
Piano Trios, so well balanced and clearly recorded. The
intonation of the string players is unfailing reliable
- not something to be taken for granted in this music -
even if at times the vibrato might be regarded as excessive.
The players have obviously studied and rehearsed these
works with considerable care and the listener is soon aware
with gratitude that no ugly or unintended sounds will emerge.
one unfortunate result of this is that there seems to be
a lack of spontaneity and of half-lights in the performances.
The players play what is in the score, and play it very
well with total assurance but, for me at least, the underlying
character of the music often fails to emerge.
regret saying this, as I have enjoyed other discs by these
players and did very much appreciate the positive aspects
of their playing and of the recording here. Nonetheless
given the number of very good and even great performances
of these works issued in recent years I cannot give this
more than this somewhat half-hearted welcome. If it is
nonetheless worth sampling if you can, as its virtues are
far from negligible and these performances may well accord
with your view of the music.
see also review by Kevin Sutton