Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)
Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, Op. 49 (1839) [28:30]
Piano Trio No. 2 in C minor, Op. 66 (1845) [29:02]
Trio Alba (Livia Sellin (violin); Philipp Comploi (cello);
Chengcheng Zhao (piano))
rec. 26-28 June 2012, Konzerthaus der Abtei Marienmünster, Germany
MUSIKPRODUKTION DABRINGHAUS UND GRIMM 903 1793-6
Trio Alba was founded in 2008 whilst the players were studying at
Graz University in Austria. Their choice to record these two Mendelssohn
works was a judicious one as they number amongst the finest piano trios in
the Romantic repertoire. They fully stand comparison with those by
Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann and Brahms. Inexplicably they seem relatively
rare visitors to the recital hall today.
Mendelssohn found it difficult to reconcile the constraints of the
Classical tradition of the 18th century with his own genial Romantic
sensibility. Out of this conflict in his artistic temperament came many
wonderful works including these two works, amongst the finest of Trios
for piano, violin and cello
. In 1832 the young Mendelssohn wrote to his
sister Fanny stating that “I should like to compose a couple of
.” Not long after his marriage to Cécile
Jeanrenaud, Mendelssohn did finally compose the first of these in 1839 with
the second written six years later.
The Piano Trio No. 1
was an immediate success and has proved
to be one of his most perennially popular scores. Mendelssohn’s friend
Ferdinand Hiller stated “I was tremendously impressed with the fire
and spirit, the flow and, in short, the mastery to be heard in every
In the opening Molto allegro agitato
of passion and intensity from the players is immediately apparent.
was impressed with their affectionate reading of the genial second
, a delightful Song Without Words
controlled tenderness fully conveyed. I especially enjoyed the effect when
the music slows right down around 5:32 (track 2) - a sublime episode. Such
confident carefree playing marks out the short third movement Scherzo
built on restless scurrying. Again the complete assurance of the players
shines through in the Finale
marked Allegro assai
. Their playing feels firm and upright yet still allows
Mendelssohn’s emotionally dramatic writing to flourish.
The Piano Trio No. 2
bears a dedication to Louis Spohr. At
this time in Mendelssohn’s life his already delicate health was
deteriorating due to the overwhelming strain of work demands. In addition he
was still grieving over the death of his father. His mother’s fragile
health was also giving cause for concern. Mendelssohn was ill when he
commenced the score and it is no surprise that much of the work reflects
those difficult days. In many ways the C minor score is superior to its D
minor predecessor although its delights do not reveal themselves quite as
easily. The Trio Alba performs the first movement Allegro energico e
with a gratifying vitality that feels strong and powerful. In the
genial and calming Andante espressivo
suggestions of a dark
undercurrent are revealed. Youthful exuberance is a feature of the
energetic, elf-like Scherzo
that just gallops along yet the players
here maintain a sense of complete control. The Finale
is conveyed by the trio with forthright determination. The
agitated, vigorous writing that concludes the windswept score is put across
with convincing ease.
The well balanced sound is close, bright - perhaps just a touch
fierce. For my taste a slightly warmer acoustic would have been preferable.
The well written booklet notes are most acceptable.
The competition in recordings of the Mendelssohn Piano Trios
is extremely fierce with this release from the Trio Alba a strong contender.
I have whittled my favourite recordings down to the CD from Julia Fischer
(violin), Jonathan Gilad (piano) and Daniel Müller-Schott (cello).
Recorded in 2006 at Cologne they provide confident security of ensemble with
a compelling sense of enjoyment. They can be heard on Pentatone Classics
(SACD) PTC 5186 085.
I played this MDG Audiomax release, a hybrid Super Audio CD, on my
This is the debut disc by Trio Alba and they play with satisfying
immediacy. These vital and expressive performances are a sheer delight.