With Schubert’s centenary year now upon us, it was predictable that the Fontenay Trio would soon enter the field. This they do with the two single movements written at 15 and about double that age alongside Schubert’s two masterpieces of 1826 and 1827 in the same keys of B flat and E flat.
When reviewing the B flat Trio on its belated emergence in print some eight years after its E flat successor, Schumann at once remarked on their very different worlds of light and dark. What impressed me most from the Fontenays was their overtly romantic response to the disquiet underlying the later E flat work. They savour the eerie scoring in the first movement’s development section in such a way as to forewarn you of the heartache toRead more follow in the slow movement (here perhaps a shade slow for an Andante con moto), while the intensity they bring to the at times terror-struck climaxes of the finale silences all criticism of its over-repetitive length.
Though maybe too forward for some tastes, the full-bodied Teldec recording does more for Michael Mucke’s violin in this work than that of Philips for Daniel Guilet in their 1994 reissue of the old (1966) Beaux Arts recording, which still remains the most formidable rival for all newcomers. In the B flat Trio I felt that the Beaux Arts, with their slightly faster tempo, their nimble buoyancy and lighter, less close sound world, make you realize exactly what Schumann meant when writing, “one glance at it and the troubles of our human existence disappear and the whole world is fresh and bright again”. But again the Fontenays offer much expressively cherished detail, not least in their flowing slow movement.
Their characterization of the youthful B flat Sonata movement is certainly more vivid than that of the Beaux Arts. Furthermore, contrasts in the B flat Notturno (thought to be a discarded slow movement for the B flat Trio) are more arresting too, though the Beaux Arts, with their slower tempo, reveal a deeper vein of nocturnal mystery; chacun a son gout.
I can only end by reminding collectors that Schubert’s two string trios (played by the distinguished Grumiaux Trio) also find a place on the Philips 1994 reissue, prompting IM to hail it that year as one of the “most extraordinary bargains” to appear on their modestly-priced Duo label.
Trio Fontenay for Schubert opus100 February 18, 2015By Bruno L. (Le Chesnay, France)See All My Reviews"Winner of a recent comparative hearing on France Musique . Quite rightly so. For me the Fontenay have reached an uncomparably rich interpretation reflecting Schubert's ability to change mood and color of its composition very swiftly, without destroying the masterpiece unity. Record Impossible to find in Europe. I was very happy to order such a treasury from Arkiv Music."Report Abuse