Brahms, Schumann, FrŸhling

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Brahms,Fráhling,Schumann
LABELS: RCA Red Seal
WORKS: Clarinet Trio in A minor, Op. 114
PERFORMER: Michael Collins (clarinet), Steven Isserlis (cello), Stephen Hough (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 09026 63504 2
A disc of clarinet trios from such sought-after soloists promises much, and certainly the recording of the Brahms Trio lives up to all expectations, full of tender beauty and fragile passion. Michael Collins and Steven Isserlis are perfectly matched in their melting and delicate approach, tending to Brahms’s alternate blending and contrasting of the clarinet and cello tone colours with consummate care. The long-breathed phrases of the Adagio are particularly fine. Isserlis’s whisper-light tone in the depths of the C string gives entrancing support to Collins’s yearning opening theme, and pianist Stephen Hough’s transparent textures are superbly controlled. The crisp Andantino grazioso is compelling, eliciting an occasional well-judged portamento from Isserlis, while the Allegro is full of dancing brilliance.

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Isserlis takes the viola part for Schumann’s Märchenerzählungen. On the whole, this is a lithesome reading, its soaring reveries full-blooded and supple, but Hough is a touch heavy-handed in the second and fourth movements, where Schumann’s ‘sehr markiert’ sounds a little plodding.

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Carl Frühling’s Trio is not particularly forward-looking, but is full of charm, from the expansive lyricism of the opening Mässig schnell to the drifting and introvert Andante and the sprightly finale. Hough’s arrangement of Schumann’s Träumerei provides an endearing ‘encore’ – soothing and effortlessly graceful. Catherine Nelson