Daniel Sepec, Roel Dieltiens and Andreas Staier perform Piano Trios by Schubert

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COMPOSERS: Schubert
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
ALBUM TITLE: Schubert
WORKS: Piano Trios, Opp. 99 & 100; Nocturne, D897
PERFORMER: Daniel Sepec (violin), Roel Dieltiens (cello), Andreas Staier (fortepiano)
CATALOGUE NO: HMC 902233-34

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It’s the use of period instruments that makes this recording stand out from other excellent accounts of Schubert’s two late piano trios. Andreas Staier plays a modern copy of an 1827 Viennese fortepiano that would have been brand spanking new when Op. 100 (D929) was composed. Along with the astringent, gut-stringed tone of violinist Daniel Sepec and cellist Roel Dieltiens, this lends the performance a revealing transparency.

More importantly, the players catch just the right Schubertian balance of poise and profundity, bringing a light touch to the opening of Op. 99 (D898) – the breeziness dissipates artfully when the music later nudges into the minor key – and to the zestful piano scales in the first movement of Op. 100. There is never any lack of momentum. Perhaps in the slow movement of Op. 99 some expressive tuning from Dieltiens creates the odd sour moment, but this is fleeting. The recording puts a good deal of space around the instruments, especially noticeable at the start of the second movement of Op. 100, with the piano on tiptoe accompanying the cello – a movement that goes on to acquire considerable drama and menace. There’s plenty of colour, from subtly glassy on-the-bridge effects to a full-on stamping and jangling in the scherzo of Op. 100 (one pictures Sepec with cymbals on his knees like some kind of high-class one-man band, but it’s probably just the fortepiano’s Janissary Bell pedal). A gorgeously sustained account of the Nocturne (D897) completes this set.

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Erica Jeal