COMPOSERS: Fournier Trio
ALBUM TITLE: Mendelssohn
WORKS: Piano Trios
PERFORMER: Fournier Trio
CATALOGUE NO: Resonus RES 10161
Most of the necessary constituents of fine chamber music playing are on display here: beautifully honed ensemble, absolute unanimity in phrasing and infinite care in balancing instrumental textures. And yet these performances by the Fournier Trio lack interpretative creativity, in particular a willingness to take risks and probe more deeply beneath the surface features of the music. This is particular the case with the more familiar D minor Trio. Mendelssohn marks the first movement to be played Molto allegro agitato. Although there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with the Fournier’s chosen tempo or the warmth of the cellist’s opening melody, the pianist’s reluctance to highlight the restlessness of the accompanying syncopated arpeggio chords reduces the sense of urgency that drives the music forward. Unfortunately, this tendency to understate the underlying mood of anxiety extends to the more forceful passagework later in the movement. A similar issue surfaces in the very different mood explored in the Scherzo. As one might expect, the Fourniers deliver impeccably precise ensemble and crystal-clear articulation. Yet the playfulness and humour of Mendelssohn’s invention is hardly evident.
I found the performance of the C minor Trio more compelling. Perhaps in the opening movement the Fourniers might have been even bolder in projecting the fire and brimstone conveyed by Mendelssohn’s specific tempo marking of Allegro energico e con fuoco, and there could be greater fluidity in shaping the melodic patterns in the ensuing Andante. Thereafter, however, the performance seems to gain far greater momentum, providing bristling urgency in the Scherzo and a suitably impassioned sense of drama in the Finale.