Zemlinsky/Korngold

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COMPOSERS: Zemlinsky/Korngold
LABELS: Philips
WORKS: Piano Trio in D minor, Op. 3; Piano Trio in D, Op. 1
PERFORMER: Beaux Arts Trio
CATALOGUE NO: 434 072-2 DDD
Zemlinsky’s Piano Trio (1895) dates from the heady years of fin-de-siècle Vienna. As an early work, though, this Trio has neither the lush chromatic monumentality nor the contrasting brittle cabaret style associated with these years, but rather relies on the Brahmsian influence of Zemlinsky’s time as student at the Vienna Conservatoire. That Zemlinsky, an accomplished pianist, was thoroughly acquainted with Brahms’s piano music is obvious from the extended solo piano opening of the second movement. (The Danish Clarinet Trio’s recording of this work – Zemlinsky provided parts for both violin and clarinet – appropriately couples it with Brahms’s own Clarinet Trio.) From the nostalgic yearning which characterises much of the piece, a Dvorákian theme in the fourth movement brings brief respite.

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Chief among Zemlinsky’s pupils in Vienna were Schoenberg, Alma Mahler and Korngold, the latter now receiving, together with his teacher, belated recognition. Although only 12 when he composed the Piano Trio Op. 1, Korngold was already an experienced and successful composer (his ballet Der Schneemann – orchestrated by Zemlinsky – had won universal acclaim at its performance at the Vienna Hofoper). An astonishing achievement for one so young, the work nevertheless pales beside Zemlinsky’s piece.

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The Beaux Arts Trio’s smooth, not unpassionate recording far outstrips existing competition for the Zemlinsky Trio, although the Cologne Clementi Trio’s coupling of Steuermann’s arrangement of Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht might be more interesting to some. Deborah Calland