The Leipzig Circle, Vol. 2

London Bridge Trio (SOMM)

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CD_SOMMCD0619_Mendelssohn

The Leipzig Circle, Vol. 2
C Schumann: Piano Trio in G minor, Op.17; Felix Mendelssohn: Piano Trio in D minor, Op. 49; R Schumann: Piano Trio in F, Op. 80
London Bridge Trio
SOMM Recordings SOMMCD 0619   83:47 mins

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Three composers; three great trios; one bustling city filled with music, dominated by the Thomaskirche where Bach had presided less than a century earlier. It’s a lovely premise for a programme of piano trios which complement one another in multiple ways. Clara Schumann was born in Leipzig, Schumann arrived there to study the piano with Clara’s father, and Mendelssohn later was appointed conductor of the Gewandhausorchester, soon becoming a close friend to both Robert and Clara.

Mendelssohn rose to be the town’s dominant musical figure, founding a conservatoire and often featuring Clara as soloist in piano concertos with his orchestra. Robert Schumann, strange to think, was the odd one out: his predilection for artistic innovation perhaps ironically made him less celebrated than his wife and his friend. Placed together, the different personalities shine out, Mendelssohn’s full of nervous energy and streamlined lyricism, Robert Schumann quirky and personal, with references to his own Dichterliebe and his ‘Clara’ themes; and Clara Schumann, in possibly her finest piece, if anything closer to Brahms’s storminess and predilection for counterpoint.

The London Bridge Trio bring this programme a vivid immediacy and an effortless sense of ensemble. Daniel Tong is if anything a slightly self-effacing pianist in the Mendelssohn’s whirlwinds; both string players are eloquent and freely lyrical, and if some occasional scratchiness goes by, it does so in the interests of impassioned expression. The Robert Schumann F major Trio takes the palm for the warmth and affection of this joyous rendition. The recorded sound is suitably intimate and pleasing.

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Jessica Duchen