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Édouard LALO (1823-1892)
Piano Trio No.1 in C minor, Op.7 (1850) [21:42]
Max BRUCH (1838-1920)
Piano Trio in C minor, Op.5 (1859) [18:43]
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)
Piano Trio No.1 in D minor, Op.49 (1839) [30:06]
Petrof Piano Trio
rec. November 2012, Sound Studio HAMU, Prague
NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI 6219 [70:43]


 
The three piano trios in this recital were written within a two-decade period by composers none of whom had yet reached thirty. Lalo’s C minor trio dates from 1850 and whilst different from, seems predicated on Mendelssohnian lines – not least the D minor trio which is one of the other pieces recorded here. Lalo writes some strikingly melancholic lines; the trio actually opens with a cello soliloquy that anticipates some of the tenor of the succeeding music, which is turbulence modified by wit. Gradually Lalo ratchets the tension, ending the first movement in a state of high drama. In the Romance it’s the piano that sets the tone, one of a song-without-words with some contrastive material that sounds positively jaunty in this performance by the Petrof Piano Trio. The scherzo hints at a humorous Polonaise whilst in the finale we return to the trio’s opening mood with an act of lofty symmetry, as the cello recitative, with which it starts, recalls the trio’s very opening. Powerful motivic material is conveyed with a real degree of elegance and clarity; a fine performance.
 
Bruch was in his very early twenties when he wrote his C minor Trio. It’s a compact, lyrical piece in the three movements that illustrates just how distinctive were his turns of phrase even then. It’s a work rich in cantabile and fluid motion, and one which culminates in a surprisingly forceful, indeed powerful finale, with a strongly attractive stalking theme. The Mendelssohn is the only true repertoire trio in this recital. The Petrof players bring a leisurely clarity to it, and they are more inclined to seek out the tranquillo than the appassionato aspects of the work though they do, it’s true, bring a degree of animation and considered intensity to bear when necessary, as in the finale. Tight ensemble is guaranteed here - Jan Schulmeister, violinist in the Wihan Quartet, is married to pianist Martina Schulmeisterová: and Kamil Žvak is the excellent cellist. The recorded balance is attractive.
 
Jonathan Woolf