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Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Piano Quintet in A Major ‘The Trout’ D667 [38.27]
Notturno in E flat major D897 [8.07]
Stšndchen “Leise flehen meine Lieder” D957/4 [4.23]
Ave Maria D839 [4.33]
Anne-Sophie Mutter (Violin)
Daniil Trifonov (Piano)
Hwayoon Lee (Viola)
Maximilian Hornung (Cello)
Roman Patkolů (Double bass)
rec. 2017, Baden-Baden Festspielhaus

Anne-Sophie Mutter and Daniil Trifonov were joined by three young soloists from the Anne Sophie Mutter Foundation for this recording of Schubert’s immortal ‘Trout’ Quintet. The front cover shows Mutter and Trifonov basking in the foreground while the other three young soloists were relegated to the back row. This did not seem to be the best way to signal the joys of collaborative music making so I was intrigued to hear what the interplay between the five soloists would be like in the recording.

For the most part the performers acquitted themselves extremely well in this highly exhilarating performance of the ‘Trout’ Quintet. The opening Allegro vivace was a little fast although the performers brought out an underlying restless feeling in the music. The playing was crisp and brilliant and there was an excellent rapport between all five players. Mutter’s playing of the rapid-fire passagework was stunning. I slightly missed the warmth and bubbling effervescence that one hears in Curzon’s famous performance with members of the Vienna Octet in this movement: the playing occasionally seemed a little rushed and clinical. The Andante second movement was more successful with the players adopting a nice flowing tempo and allowing Schubert’s immortal melodies to sing out. There were some gorgeous, highly expressive playing by the inner strings. The scherzo was the most successful of the five movements and the tight, darting interplay between Trifonov and the string players was exceptionally fine. Trifonov produced delightful light, scampering passagework and he really seemed to be in his element. The famous variations were well characterised and I was struck by the dynamic contrasts and startling shifts of character. Once again this movement did not quite have the magic and sense of unalloyed delight which Curzon and his compatriots injected into the music but it was a very fine performance and illuminated the music in interesting new ways. The final Allegro giusto was full of rambunctious rhythmic energy and the dialogue was excellent throughout. Overall, this was a first-rate performance as one would expect from such a distinguished group of players although not one of the greatest performances.

The next work on the disc was Schubert’s one movement ‘Notturno’ which was completed in the autumn of 1827 and may possibly have been a rejected slow movement for the B flat Piano Trio. This performance by Mutter, Trifonov and Hornung had an organic, improvisatory feel as if the music was being newly imagined. All three played worked as one to give us a range of striking impressionistic sonorities.

The disc concluded with two transcriptions of Schubert songs the first by Mischa Elman and the second by August Wilhelmj and Jascha Heifetz. Mutter and Trifonov added their own minor adjustments. Mutter took the leading role in these gorgeous transcriptions producing some highly affecting double stopping in Stšndchen while allowing the melodic line to soar in Ave Maria. Trifonov captured the angelic quality of the latter in his flowing accompaniment.

Overall, this recording contains a lot of very high quality playing, although I was not completely convinced by this interpretation of the ‘Trout’ Quintet.

Robert Beattie



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