Korngold Piano Trio Op. 1; Zemlinsky Piano Trio Op. 3
Stefan Zweig Trio
Ars Produktion ARS 38 264 (hybrid CD/SACD) 57:96 mins
Zemlinsky was Korngold’s teacher, Mahler having recommended that the prodigiously talented nine year-old should study with him. The lad was all of 12 years old when he wrote his Piano Trio Op. 1. It’s a full-blooded, enthusiastic work, if anything over-stuffed with ideas and effects, but it is still almost impossible to take on board that it was composed by one so young. Zemlinsky’s own trio is an early work too, but of more mature years, with duly more refined technique. The Stefan Zweig Trio (pianist Sibila Konstantinova, violinist Kei Shirai and cellist Tristan Cornut) give vivid, colourful accounts that bring out the best in both pieces. There’s much enthusiasm and communicative, conversational joy between the three players and their warmth of tone – notably with soaring cello from Cornut and velvety piano tone from Konstantinova – is matched by the warmth of recorded sound. The Korngold is perhaps a little over-egged – it’s a rich pudding to begin with and Shirai’s extremely ample portamentos, especially in the first movement, maybe doth protest too much; but the Zemlinsky shines bright, emerging as a real gem. I am still trying to figure out why there’s a zebra on the front cover.