Since the foundation of PentaTone Classics in 2001, their enterprising programming; appealing contemporary presentations; consistently high quality performances and state of the art recordings have been nothing short of astonishing. I look forward enthusiastically to each of their stylish new releases and this hybrid Super Audio CD of Mendelssohn’s two Piano Trios was no exception. After a check of the accompanying marketing information it seems that this disc has already been selected as a Gramophone ‘Editor’s Choice’ and the recipient of a Diapason d'Or award.
PentaTone’s choice of performers to play on this release is another delight to savour. No starchy, wobbly, out of tune players just going through the motions here.Read more The trio comprises young, highly enthusiastic and greatly talented players. None of them is a full time chamber musician as they each apportion their careers as concert soloists. Julia Fischer and Daniel Müller-Schott have been especially successful at creating high profile reputations for themselves on the concert platform and in the recording studio. On the evidence of these performances the trio can be ranked alongside the finest young chamber music performers on the international stage, most notably: the Belcea Quartet; the Henschel Quartet; the Gould Piano Trio; the Pacifica Quartet; the Skampa Quartet and the trio of Renaud Capuçon, Gautier Capuçon and Frank Braley.
The Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, Op. 49 was composed across the cities of Leipzig and in Frankfurt. The D minor score was an immediate success and has proved to be one of his most perennially popular scores. Mendelssohn’s friend Ferdinand Hiller stated, "I was tremendously impressed with the fire and spirit, the flow and, in short, the mastery to be heard in every bar." Cast in well balanced proportions the joyous and exuberant four movement work is exquisite and remains the most admired of Mendelssohn’s two Piano Trios. It has an abundance of charm and appeal that has maintained its eminent status in the chamber music repertoire. The part for the piano is more prominent than the more discrete involvement of the violin and cello.
In the opening movement Molto allegro agitato of the D minor score the clarity and warmth offered by the players is immediately apparent. The vibrant and darting playing from the trio in the demanding and sparkling third movement scherzo, with John Gilad’s fingers just dancing across the keyboard, provides a chapter to savour. In the final movement Rondo marked Allegro assai appassionato the adroit and incisive players are thrilling in Mendelssohn’s highly emotional dramatics.
The trio perform the first movement of the C minor work with veritable panache and vitality. The darker tones behind the calm exterior of the Andante espressivo movement are adeptly revealed by the trio and their progress towards the gently lilting finish is an exquisite achievement. The trio’s youthful exuberance in the energetic and intricate third movement Scherzo is always under complete control. The Finale, allegro appassionato is conveyed with a special blend of joy and affection by the players. The agitated vigour that culminates the score is communicated with an exultant air.
Superb readings of these often underrated Mendelssohn scores. Their security of ensemble is breathtaking and one can detect a compelling sense of enjoyment from the players. These are assured and enchanting interpretations that provide a wide spectrum of brilliant colours. I believe that these performances surpass the best of the available versions. I played this on my standard units and found the closely recorded sound quality to be crystal clear, warm and well balanced.
PentaTone have provided a smart contemporary presentation, interesting and detailed annotation, excellent sonics together with superb performances. What more could one ask. This is certainly a disc to dash out and purchase.
– MusicWeb International (Michael Cookson) Read less