Mendelssohn: Piano Trio in D minor, Op. 49,; Piano Trio in C minor, Op. 66

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COMPOSERS: Mendelssohn
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: Piano Trio in D minor, Op. 49,; Piano Trio in C minor, Op. 66
PERFORMER: Gould Piano Trio
CATALOGUE NO: 8.555063
Sweeping energy and well-shaped long melodic lines make both these performances gripping and rewarding. This is an impassioned, German-Romantic Mendelssohn, far closer to Schumann than to decorous Victorians like Sullivan or Stainer. Each work is approached very much as a whole, so that even the quasi-orchestral chorale-writing in the finale of the C minor Trio comes across convincingly, both as a sound in itself and as the apotheosis of a compelling symphonic argument. On the whole, though, it does seem to be pianist Benjamin Frith who drives the music forward – even if the recording pushes him well to the back of the ensemble. Violinist Lucy Gould and cellist Martin Storey are clearly fine musicians, but they rarely feel as powerfully present as Frith. Granted, the piano gets the lion’s share of the virtuoso writing in both trios, but in the Chung Trio performance of the D minor you do get the feeling that the three players are making a more-or-less equal contribution to the impressive total effect; while in the Atlantis Trio’s lively period-instrument version of Op. 66 the less assertive fortepiano allows the players more freedom to breathe and express. Going for the two full-price alternatives would mean spending a lot more, but this time it’s worth it – especially if you take into account the enticing couplings: Brahms’s First Piano Trio (Chung) and Fanny Mendelssohn’s remarkable D minor Trio (Atlantis). Stephen Johnson

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