Schumann: Piano Trio No. 1; Piano Trio No. 2; Piano Trio No. 3; Fantasiestücke Op. 88

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COMPOSERS: Schumann
LABELS: Philips
WORKS: Piano Trio No. 1; Piano Trio No. 2; Piano Trio No. 3; Fantasiestücke Op. 88
PERFORMER: Beaux Arts Trio
CATALOGUE NO: 432 165-2 DDD
Schumann’s finest piece of chamber music was for piano quintet, virtually a new medium, in which he didn’t have to fear comparison with the great Classical masters. But he was eager to prove himself, after decent hesitation, in the forms of the string quartet and piano trio which they had established. These never quite brought out the best in Schumann, though the First Piano Trio strikes brighter sparks than the other two.

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The three instruments are difficult to balance and this disc manages by boosting the violinist, keeping the cello back and removing brilliance from the piano. The Beaux Arts have cornered this market, but although they play as if they’ve grown up together, they are neither technically impressive nor musically exciting. Of specialised interest. Adrian Jack