Notes and Editorial Reviews
Piano Trios: No. 1; No. 3
Voces Intimae (period instruments)
CHALLENGE 72520 (SACD: 58:40)
It is almost becoming an axiom that the closer period instruments are beginning to sound like modern ones, the better they sound. I suppose for a modern-instrument proponent this is an obvious given, but consider what we have seen the last few years. There is no question that period practitioners are becoming far more adept on their instruments than even, say, 20 years ago; that they are moving—rapidly—away
from previously held doctrinaire positions that decreed, among other things, blazingly fast tempos, refusal to slow down for movement endings,
no matter what, and even the idea that certain music must be played on their instruments in order to even begin comprehending what the composer(s) had in mind.
Recently these trends are moving in the opposite direction. Hopefully we might in the near future see a Haydn “Paris” symphonies set that uses period instruments in the large number that Haydn envisioned, much as we have had a
that was honest enough to try this. Period performers are actually moving back to that once-forbidden word “interpretation,” which seemed anathema for the longest time. Schumann is a good testing ground, for one almost
to interpret him—and he would have expected no less. The members of the piano trio Voces Intimae chose period instruments as “a means of bringing our sound closer to his musical environment, and to the sounds that he knew and loved, the sounds that filled his life and obsessed him to the point of madness.” Sounds a little hyperbolic to me, but it does seem to work for these guys, who use a Streicher 1847 piano, a 1648 Mariani violin, and a Bergonzi cello copy from the late 1700s, the latter two with uncovered gut strings.
The D-Minor Trio (No. 1) gets a riveting performance fully up to the status of this most famous of Schumann’s trios, and it contrasts nicely to the more maniacal G-Minor Trio, pulling together the various strands that make some people think this work as mad as the composer supposedly was. But as we have seen with so much of his late piano music, his time at the asylum had little to do with what he actually put on paper, and the last movement of this amazing work has always seemed to me as a last laugh at fate itself, showing the world that despite the seriousness of life one must in the end simply chuckle at it. Voces Intimae captures this affect very nicely and gives us convincing performances. In
35:1 I raved about the SACD recording of the first two trios by the Swiss Piano Trio, and that still stands, especially when they come out with the third trio as well. But I would hate to steer anyone away from readings as fine as these.
FANFARE: Steven E. Ritter
Works on This Recording
Piano Trio in d minor op. 63: Mit Energie und Leidenschaft
Piano Trio in d minor op. 63: Lebhaft, doch nicht zu rasch
Piano Trio in d minor op. 63: Langsam, mit inniger Empfindung
Piano Trio in d minor op. 63: Mit Feuer
Piano Trio in g minor op. 110: Bewegt, doch nicht zu rasch
Piano Trio in g minor op. 110: Ziemlich langsam
Piano Trio in g minor op. 110: Rasch
Piano Trio in g minor op. 110: Kraftig, mit Humor
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