WORKS: Piano Trio in D minor, Op. 63; Piano Trio in F, Op. 80
PERFORMER: Florestan Trio
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67063
Schumann’s three piano trios, composed towards the end of his creative life, are among his most neglected chamber masterpieces. The first two – recorded here – were dashed off in rapid succession in the summer and autumn of 1847, when he was also working on his opera Genoveva. They are as different as could be imagined: the first of the pair, in D minor, was written, as Schumann confessed, during a time of ‘gloomy moods’, though it has a splendidly uplifting finale; its successor, on the other hand, is much sunnier and more relaxed. What they do have in common is a slow movement of sublime introverted passion.
The Florestan Trio clearly has this music in its blood. Without robbing it of any of its due weight and seriousness, its playing has a transparency that ought to be enough to give the lie to any notions that Schumann’s chamber textures are too thick. Played like this, the opening movement of the Op. 80 Trio has both exuberance and elegance, while the long accelerando in the closing pages of the First Trio almost lifted me out of my seat. By comparison, the Beaux Arts Trio, although it has much to offer in the slow movements, is impossibly languid in the canonic intermezzo-like third movement of the F major work, while the speed with which it launches into the scherzo of its companion-piece is so fast that the pianist misses most of the sharply dotted rhythm’s repeated notes. No one who loves Schumann should miss this outstandingly fine new disc.