WORKS: Piano Trio No. 1 in B, Op. 8; Piano Trio No. 2 in C, Op. 87
PERFORMER: Maria-João Pires (piano), Augustin Dumay (violin), Jian Wang (cello)
CATALOGUE NO: 447 055-2 DDD
The Op. 8 Piano Trio is paradoxically both the first and the last work that Brahms composed in the genre. Originally written in 1853-54, Brahms made such extensive revisions to the Trio that he whimsically considered giving it a new opus number. The choice of the key of B major displays a certain audacity, being all but absent from the output of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert. Indeed, despite the meticulous attentions of the more introverted, mature Brahms, the revised version retains much of the youthful capriciousness of the original.
Pires, Dumay and Wang display a profound love of the music throughout this disc, which is combined with a seemingly innate understanding of its inner workings and its overall shape. They are not content simply to play the notes with technical polish, and the sense of communication between the performers is tangible. The first movement of Op. 8 admittedly begins on the leisurely side of Allegro con brio, but never ponderously so, and it is hard to imagine a more finely judged tempo in the scherzo. Apart from a slight rhythmic jolt in the opening movement’s third bar (possibly an editing mistake) the performance of the C major Trio is equally gratifying.