Brahms, Hugh Wood, Beethoven

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Beethoven,Brahms,Hugh Wood
LABELS: The Divine Art
WORKS: Clarinet Trio in A minor, Op. 114
PERFORMER: Trio Gemelli
CATALOGUE NO: 25009
Trio Gemelli (founded by identical twins John and Adrian Bradbury) first appeared as Park Lane Group Young Artists in 1997, then at the Wigmore Hall, and then later that year at the Cheltenham Festival where it premiered Hugh Wood’s Clarinet Trio. And now it provides the first recording of that work on a disc whose enterprising programming is its strongest recommendation.

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The triptych of character pieces which form Wood’s Trio is boldly set out: the long, elaborated solo melodies of the first movement fearlessly elucidated; the scherzo-march of the ‘Fantastico’ centrepiece imaginatively transformed; and its memorial-finale revealing anger and fear coiled within its grief.

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The Brahms Trio is the most substantial work on the disc, though you probably wouldn’t want to acquire it primarily for this performance. It has neither the panache of the Florestan Trio (on a Hyperion two-disc set of the complete Brahms trios), nor the sheer virtuoso profile of Michael Collins with Isserlis and Hough on RCA. Rather, it’s a careful, intimate performance in which the Gemelli could cherish the slow movement’s melody just a little more, and project its own enthusiasm and Brahms’s passion more strongly throughout. The players’ meticulously thought-through performance of Beethoven’s Op. 11 Trio springs to life in the finale’s theme and variations. Hilary Finch