Schubert: Piano Quintet in A (Trout

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Schubert
LABELS: PentaTone
WORKS: Piano Quintet in A (Trout); Variations on Trockne Blumen
PERFORMER: Aldo Baerten (flute), Christian Tetzlaff (violin), Antoine Tamestit (viola), Marie-Elisabeth Hecker (cello), Alois Posch (bass), Martin Helmchen (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: PTC 5186 334

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This is a marvellous disc, one of the most enjoyable I have heard in a long time. It is distinguished by superb sound, too.

There is a great line-up of soloists who seem to have clicked miraculously, with the result that they deliver a more completely satisfactory account of the Trout Quintet than any I have ever heard before. From the dreamy opening, strings wandering while the piano rises decisively, the concentration is on the incredibly original sounds that Schubert created – not an aspect of his genius one normally thinks much about.

The work, which usually seems enchanting, tuneful and not very adventurous, here reveals itself as a subtle, sometimes disconcerting piece, without a routine bar. Martin Helmchen is as gifted a new pianist as I expect to hear for years, and Christian Tetzlaff is here at his best. 

The second work, a quite long set of variations on the great song ‘Trock’ne Blumen’ from Die schöne Müllerin, has Aldo Baerten playing a wooden flute, which gives this mildly interesting work a bit more claim on the attention than it usually commands. But then we are back with great Schubert in the so-called ’Notturno’ D897, the slow movement of what would have been a masterpiece had he written any other movements.

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As it is, Schubert has one transfixed by its sustained beauty, and the three soloists are once again on top form. Michael Tanner