Mendelssohn: Piano Trios Nos 1 & 2; Violin Sonata in F

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COMPOSERS: Mendelssohn
LABELS: Warner
WORKS: Piano Trios Nos 1 & 2; Violin Sonata in F
PERFORMER: Dmitri Makhtin (violin), Alexander Kniazev (cello), Boris Berezovsky (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 2564 69786-6

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Mendelssohn’s two piano trios have been well served on CD, and these new versions can hold their own with some of the best.

They’re concert performances, so there’s a small price to pay in terms of the occasional audience noise and the odd patch of sour intonation between the two string players, but the playing conveys all the ardour and passion of Mendelssohn’s writing.

Indeed, it’s sometimes possible to feel the intensity is a little exaggerated: the rubato in the soaring B flat major tune at the mid-point of the finale in the Op. 49 Trio, for instance, or the broadening of the tempo for the chorale theme in the last movement of the companion-work in C minor.

At the other end of the scale, the fleeting, gossamer-textured Scherzo of the D minor Trio is taken at lightning speed, but this sort of thing is child’s play to Boris Berezovsky, whose virtuoso pianism is one of the real strengths of these performances.

Unlike its rivals, this recording throws in a substantial bonus – a violin sonata Mendelssohn composed around the time he was writing his famous E minor Concerto.

Musically, it’s no great shakes (Mendelssohn himself dismissed it as ‘wretched’, and it didn’t resurface until Yehudi Menuhin edited it in the 1950s), but its scherzo-like finale could make a useful encore.

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For the two trios my prime recommendation remains the Trio Wanderer, but this newcomer is a serious contender. Misha Donat