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An Invitation at the Schumanns

Samuel Hasselhorn (baritone), Jorge González Buajasan (piano); Trio Dichter (Harmonia Mundi)

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

An Invitation at the Schumanns
Works by Brahms, C Schumann, R Schumann, JS Bach, Gade, D Scarlatti, Mendelssohn
Samuel Hasselhorn (baritone), Jorge González Buajasan (piano); Trio Dichter
Harmonia Mundi HMM902509   79:19 mins

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Careful thought underpins Trio Dichter’s invitation to an imaginary soirée chez the Schumanns. Eavesdropping on the domestic music-making, we’re not just seduced by their own music – Robert’s Op. 80 Piano Trio at the heart of the programme. Friends such as Brahms, Mendelssohn and Niels Gade drop in. And the Schumanns’s enthusiasm for the 18th century is referenced, even if the modest little prelude hardly conveys the creative stimulation they found in the music of JS Bach; and the Scarlatti sonata isn’t exactly from Domenico’s top drawer. The mid- 19th-century soundworld is important too. Violin and cello are gut-stringed, while the piano is an 1890s Bösendorfer, manufactured three decades after Robert’s death.

Nit-pickers might snipe at the latter; but no matter. It gets a rigorous workout in Mendelssohn’s Op 92 piano duo whose finale fairly fizzes as the trio’s pianist Fiona Mato is joined by Jorge González Buajasan. Another guest singing for his supper is Samuel Hasselhorn whose supple baritone triumphs in Brahms, though is not ideally balanced with the rather forward piano sound in Robert’s wedding present to Clara: ‘Widmung’. Other miniatures are adroitly incorporated to illuminate or reinforce mood, though the concluding trio arrangement of Kinderszenen’s ‘Der Dichter spracht’, while engineering a touching farewell, is a little over-reverently indulged. Not so the F major Piano Trio itself. Its first movement smoulders with protean restlessness, the counterpoint (as in the finale) purposefully incisive, and the wry lolloping gait of the inscrutable third movement is expertly judged. A compelling centrepiece to a skilfully conceived album.

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Paul Riley