Mendelssohn: Piano Trios in D and C minor

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Mendelssohn
LABELS: CPO
WORKS: Piano Trios in D and C minor
PERFORMER: ATOS Trio
CATALOGUE NO: CPO 777 505-2

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At the risk of becoming tedious, I repeat: when Mendelssohn labels the first movement of his D minor Trio Molto allegro agitato, we must assume he means what he says. To downplay the tempo is to play into the hands of even respected critics who (I quote from a recent article in a British daily) still write off anything but the youthful Mendelssohn as succumbing to ‘technically adept mediocrity’. At least the ATOS Trio play fair by the first movement of the C minor. But here the problem is one of sound. Allegro energico e con fuoco is fine, but the ‘fuoco’ should be fire without smoke, or, in this case, without a fuzzy resonance.

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The two Scherzos are polished off at speed. But I could do without the pianist’s rhythmic interference in the slow movement of the D minor Trio, with one particularly unfortunate hiatus before a cadence that merely breaks up Mendelssohn’s smoothly undulating surface. The close, rather boomy recording is no help. In short, this disc presents no competition to the Trio Wanderer. Roger Nichols