Mendelssohn: Piano Trio No. 1; Piano Trio No. 2

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COMPOSERS: Mendelssohn
LABELS: Hyperion
ALBUM TITLE: Mendelssohn Piano Trios
WORKS: Piano Trio No. 1; Piano Trio No. 2
PERFORMER: Florestan Trio
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67485
What immediately impresses

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about these performances by the

Florestan Trio is the lightness and

clarity of the playing, with Susan

Tomes characteristically sparing

in her use of pedal. In both works

the scherzo is a typically fleeting

and transparent piece, and it would

be hard to imagine either more

satisfactorily done.

Nor is there any lack of

fire elsewhere – indeed, the

performance of the finale in the

C minor Second Trio generates

such energy that the climactic

emergence of its chorale melody

acts, as it should, as a release of

the music’s pent-up tension. Only

in the opening bars of the same

work’s first movement, with their

sweeping main subject, is the rise

and fall of the music’s dynamics a

shade underplayed.

There have been other impressive

versions of these works, not least

by the Beaux Arts Trio. I am by no

means an unreserved Beaux Arts

admirer, but Mendelssohn suits

these players particularly well, and

it’s possible to feel they find greater

depth in the slow movements, in

particular. Both begin with an

extended solo piano melody, and

Tomes is a touch straight-laced

playing this in comparison with

her colleague in the Beaux Arts,

Menahem Pressler. In the end,

though, the question of expressive

freedom is a matter of taste, and

there’s no doubt this well-recorded

new disc offers exceptionally fine

accounts of these two great works.

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Misha Donat