The Monte Piano Trio perform Piano Trios by Beach, Klouda and Clara Schumann

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COMPOSERS: Beach,Clara Schumann,Klouda
LABELS: Genuin
ALBUM TITLE: Beach * Klouda * C Schumann
WORKS: Beach: Piano Trio in A minor; Klouda: Piano Trio No. 1; C Schumann: Piano Trio in G minor
PERFORMER: Monte Piano Trio


The enigmatic, impressionistic opening of Amy Beach’s 1938 Piano Trio in A minor promises much: Fauré hovers in the air, but his ghost is rapidly dispelled in the violin’s soupy first melody, and laid to rest in thunderous piano scales that seem ludicrously inappropriate in this whimsical context. It’s as if she toyed with something dangerously Continental but lost heart and fell back on the crutch of virtuosic noise.

Beach is at her best in passages of light, sinuous counterpoint, which, for example, carry the Lento espressivo through into a charming, skittering middle episode. In the pummelling bass of the jolly moto perpetuo Allegro con brio, one feels the formidable pianist dominate the composer.

Clara Schumann’s Op. 17 Piano Trio of 1846 is a more ambitious, polished and colourful work, but exposes Irina Botan’s heavy-handed attack – and the condition of the Steinway itself (in Frankfurt’s High School of Music and Drama). The Andante, which should feel lustrous and warm, is marred both by this and a lack of focus and direction in the string playing.

If the Beach and Schumann suffer from quavery strings, Natalie Klouda’s Piano Trio No. 1 (2014) plays to their strengths. A reflection on the famous love triangle between Clara and Robert Schumann and Brahms, the piano carries a winding narrative amid eery sound-effects. In the central ‘Reflections – Johannes’, strings sing a melancholy arioso, while in ‘Vexations – Robert’ we are thrust into the anguished tumult of the composer’s mind. A work with a future, no doubt.


Helen Wallace