Notes and Editorial Reviews
. Piano Trio in B?,
op. 97, “Archduke”
Storioni Tr; Jan Willem de Vriend, cond; Netherlands SO
CHALLENGE 72579 (SACD: 71:15)
It’s a good thing I fell in love with this CD before I read about it. I deliberately left the notes for later, like a self-sequestered judge. This has been my year for the
, and I have reviewed CDs of it from The Knights and the
Claremont Trio, not to mention rehearing a legendary one from Karajan and company. But nothing has gotten under my skin so much as this vital, beautifully balanced and executed performance. It represents one gloriously weighted, pulse-racing leap through the loudspeakers and has a remarkable ability to keep your attention. The recorded sound is natural and spacious, in the nice unforced way one so often encounters now with SACD.
Still, I burst out laughing, when I first read about the musicians. What a can of worms Roger Norrington and his movement have surely opened! Here we find a Barenreiter-influenced interpretation, but from an absolutely enormous orchestra. The instruments are modern, with steel strings, except for the brasses, which are early instruments. The Storioni Trio play on gut strings, but use considerable vibrato, and to confuse things further, feature the fortepiano.
In other words, this
be some sort of ghastly artistic hodgepodge. Somehow it isn’t. The fortepiano, once you get used to its damped sonority, works well. Still, at times it sounds like a harp made of tin cans. And when the finale’s cadenza hits a powerful series of low-octave trills, you might be convinced there were three harpsichords gone mad in a coat closet. But the gut strings, I find, sound a touch sweeter than steel ones. It would have been nice to hear the whole orchestra strung with them. And both performances are actually lovely, once you get past the “what the hell is that!?” of hearing the fortepiano. The notes, once I read them, were informative and fortunately not pretentious. Nothing is more annoying in music than a theory in love with itself!
FANFARE: Steven Kruger
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