Brahms: Piano Trios, Opp. 8, 87 & 101; Piano Quintet, Op. 34

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COMPOSERS: Brahms
LABELS: EMI
WORKS: Piano Trios, Opp. 8, 87 & 101; Piano Quintet, Op. 34
PERFORMER: Peter Frankl, André Previn (piano), György Pauk (violin), Ralph Kirshbaum (cello); Yale String Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: CZS 5 73341 2 Reissue (1973, 1979)
The Frankl-Pauk-Kirshbaum Trio has earned strong credentials for its interpretations of Brahms’s trios, though it might come as a surprise to discover that these excellent EMI accounts were taped as long ago as 1976. Still, in every sense these are sonorous, cultivated and believably idiomatic readings that should satisfy even the most discerning of Brahmsians. But where the masterful Beaux Arts Trio (still my preferred option on Philips) focused primarily on warmth, opulence and breadth, and still managed to make Brahms’s iron-willed rhetoric (a constant undercurrent in Op. 101) powerfully felt, these players bring a leaner, more athletic feel to the music that’s certainly no less credible nor satisfying.

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André Previn joins forces with the Yale Quartet in this leonine, hard-hitting reading of the F minor Piano Quintet; again thoroughly polished, though the transfer doesn’t soften the reverberation of All Saints’ Church, Tooting, where the recording was made in 1972. Michael Jameson