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Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)
Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, op. 49 (1839) [28:20]
Piano Trio No. 2 in C minor, op. 66 (1846) [30:12]
Jonathan Gilad (piano), Julia Fischer (violin), Daniel Müller-Schott (cello)
rec. February 2006, Deutschlandfunk Sendesaal, Cologne
Originally released as PTC5186085
Revoewed in stereo
PENTATONE PTC5186609 SACD [59:04]

As you can see from the details, this is a reissue; the original release was reviewed by Michael Cookson back in 2006. Why PentaTone should choose to do so is not clear; it was a SACD back then, and there is no suggestion that it has been re-mastered. Indeed, the original release is still available for purchase.

Enough of market analysis, the performances are the important thing if you didn’t “dash and out purchase” this in 2006, as Michael recommended. PentaTone was fortunate to have budding stars Fischer and Müller-Schott on their books at that time. Each has gone onto major careers as soloists, Fischer now with Decca. Great soloists do not always make good chamber musicians, but each of these players has a number of chamber recordings under their belt, particularly Müller-Schott, who has a further connection with Mendelssohn and Gilad, with the cello sonatas released some years ago on Orfeo.

There is no doubt that the three players gel together well, and their individual playing is beyond reproach. Nevertheless, I can’t be as positive about this recording as my colleague, who concluded that “the performances surpass the best of the available versions”. At that time, those available versions included the Florestan Trio’s wonderful Hyperion disc. Even in 2006, had I heard this, I would have placed it below the Florestans, and by some way. Now there is the quite exceptional Sitkovetsky Trio (BIS – review) to reckon with as well. Where do I feel that Fischer et al. fall short? They take a quite spacious and Romantic approach, compared to the more the vivacious and energetic way of the Sitkovetskys and Florestans. While timings are not a guaranteed way of comparing performances, I think the extra minutes taken by this trio in both works tell a story. It obviously depends on how you perceive these works, but, for me, the latter is better.

The somewhat recessed recording acoustic adds to the warmth and richness of the playing. To PentaTone’s credit, they have updated the booklet, at least in terms of the performer’s biographies, and I read with interest that Julia Fischer plays in a string quartet with Alexander Sitkovetsky, of the aforementioned trio.

You wouldn’t be disappointed if you purchased this, especially if you like “big” Mendelssohn, but I feel you can do better in these works.

David Barker

Previous review (original release): Michael Cookson



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