Brahms; Schubert

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Brahms; Schubert
LABELS: Wigmore Hall Live
WORKS: Brahms: Piano Trio No. 3; Schubert: Piano Trio No. 2
PERFORMER: Sitkovetsky Trio
CATALOGUE NO: WHLive 0070

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Hot on the heels of the Sitkovetsky Trio’s debut disc for BIS comes this impressive live recording from the Wigmore Hall, made in September 2013. Schubert’s E flat Trio receives a particularly enthralling performance. Pianist Wu Qian plays the outer movements’ florid passagework with crystal-clear articulation and a light transparent tone. Leonard Elschenbroich phrases the slow movement’s haunting cello melody eloquently, and violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky brings requisite Viennese charm and elegance to the Scherzo. The balance between the three instruments is superbly judged, with great clarity even in the Andante con moto’s full-blooded climaxes, and in the lengthy Finale the Sitkovetskys are engaging throughout.

Though the Brahms is performed with gusto and panache, the interpretation is not on the same high level. Part of the problem is that there is less light and shade in the string textures, and the piano could have benefited from deploying a richer bass line. Furthermore, the players are not quite so responsive to the composer’s carefully judged dynamic markings. In the first movement, for example, the Sitkovetskys play all the loud passages forcefully but fail to make the requisite difference between sections marked forte and fortissimo. Still, there are some marvellous moments, particularly in the slow movement where the limpid dialogue between solo strings and piano is exquisitely phrased.

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Erik Levi