Mendelssohn: Piano Trios: No. 1 in D minor, Op. 49; No. 2 in C minor, Op. 66

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COMPOSERS: Mendelssohn
LABELS: Sony
WORKS: Piano Trios: No. 1 in D minor, Op. 49; No. 2 in C minor, Op. 66
PERFORMER: Itzhak Perlman (violin), Yo-Yo Ma (cello), Emanuel Ax (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 88697 52192 2

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The lyrical movements and sections of Mendelssohn’s two Piano Trios come over in this recording in their full beauty. Here Perlman’s tone is second to none and he phrases, as ever, with instinctive grace, while his partners are equally beguiling.

The problems arise in the outer movements. Composers do make mistakes over metronome markings, often feeling the music faster at the desk than is viable in performance. But when Mendelssohn labels his two first movements Molto allegro agitato and Allegro energico e con fuoco, we must assume he means what he says.

There is plenty of evidence that as both keyboard player and conductor he was something of a speed merchant, but the tempos taken on this disc are frankly sedate (Ma’s mutation of the opening crotchet of the D minor Trio into a minim being a harbinger of things to come).

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Furthermore, the printed accelerando at the end of the last movement is ignored, though of course there can be no doubt that technically they would have been well able to make it. The fine recording by Trio Wanderer shows how vital this accelerando is, and that the outer movements actually gain in weight and coherence from faster tempos. Roger Nichols