Notes and Editorial Reviews
Reviews from some of the original recordings that make up this set:
The Gryphon Trio must be counted as fine a threesome as any before the public today, and this new disc offers a view of Beethoven unlike any other. Special kudos must go right away to pianist Jamie Parker, who leads the ensemble (these early works still belong largely to the pianist) with impeccable taste, a gorgeous tone, a fabulous trill, and boundless reserves of energy. The opening allegros of both works have all of the necessary brilliance and momentum thanks largely to his acute sense of rhythm and accent, which is not to say that his partners aren't very fine musicians as well. Cellist Roman Borys plays with an especially warm tone, and while violinist Annalee Patipatanakoon's slightly husky, nasal timbre might raise an eyebrow or two (especially in the Adagio cantabile of Trio No. 1), her excellent intonation and stylish phrasing pay ample dividends.
Interpretively speaking, these are light and lively performances, very rapid in the allegros and surprisingly expansive in the slow movements. The C minor trio's variations consequently sprawl a bit, but they're still very well characterized and beautifully played. You will be most impressed by the ensemble's extraordinary rhythmic acuity at high speed. Consider, for example, the cadence theme that closes the exposition of the E-flat trio's first movement: those upward rushing scales have the delicious musical fizz of bubbles rising in a glass of champagne. Or try the Prestissimo finale of the C minor trio, which flies by in what seems like a single breath, but with no streamlining or lack of punch. Add to these qualities ideally sensitive balances between the individual players and state-of-the-art sound, and the result is a first-rate addition to the Beethoven Trio discography, strongly recommended.
– David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
The Gryphon Trio of Canada has recorded an eclectic range of music stretching from Mozart to the tangos of Astor Piazzolla... This is one of the most enjoyable accounts I have heard of the Archduke Trio I've heard in a long while. The Gryphon players are warm, spacious, and lyrical in the opening movement, while the slow movement – one of Beethoven's most profound sets of variations - is serene and deeply-felt without ever dragging, and the helter-skelter coda of the finale taken at a genuine presto that nevertheless leaves room for the required further acceleration in the closing moments... The middle work of the Op. 1 triptych receives a fine performance too with an affecting account of the radiant slow movement - the expressive highpoint of the series as a whole... a beautifully recorded and strongly recommended disc. Not to be missed!
– BBC Music Magazine
For reasons that are hard to pin down, Mozart's six piano trios (despite the late date of five of them) do not rank among his best chamber music. It may be that their consistent major-key brightness, tendency toward moderate tempos in so many of their movements, and generally relaxed demeanor marries less than ideally with Mozart's customary formal symmetry and melodic breadth. Or it may be that most performances (and I've heard a lot of them over the years) simply take themselves too seriously and let the music bog down, either in excessive heaviness or inappropriately phrase-fracturing fussiness of detail. These performances go a long way toward proving that the music is better than it usually sounds, and no praise can be higher.
Specifically, what the Gryphon Trio brings to these pieces is flow--that sense of effortless forward momentum that characterizes all of Mozart's (and just about everyone else's, come to think of it) best work. You can hear this immediately in the first movement of K. 496. Like most ensembles, these players make dynamic adjustments to the "petit reprise" bits of the second subject. In other words, immediately repeated phrases are played more softly than originally. But rather than a sudden and distracting drop to an exaggerated pianissimo, the adjustment is subtle, just enough so that you listen to the melody with fresh ears. Here, and in too many other instances to mention, the Gryphon Trio shows that it understands how to inflect Mozart's lyrical lines without ever losing sight of their ultimate destinations, engaging your attention without disfiguring the music in the process.
The same virtues admirably serve the variation movements in this same work (finale) and in K. 564 (central andante), where the ability to characterize while leading the ear on from one section to the next offers a veritable clinic in good taste operating within the bounds of the classical style. Perhaps the most impressive achievement is the performance of K. 502 in B-flat, whose final Allegretto, coming after the long larghetto slow movement, for once rounds off the work without any suggestion of anticlimax. Of course the lion's share of the work here belongs to the piano, and Jamie Parker proves himself a Mozartean of very high caliber indeed. I was also very impressed by the way that cellist Roman Borys follows the piano's bass line, blending in when he must, but emerging effortlessly to partner the violin when Mozart asks him to. Warmly pellucid sonics round out a pair of discs representing a first-class achievement in every way.
– David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
The "heavenly length" that Schumann ascribed to Schubert's Great C major Symphony could be applied to numerous other works in the latter's canon, both in temporal and qualitative terms. Schubert's sublime Octet runs more than an hour with all the repeats observed. His piano trios, Opp 99 and 100, aren't quite as expansive, yet they pack enough significant material into their respective four movements to make many symphonies of the period (and beyond) seem ill-nourished.
The Gryphon Trio's new recording of these repertoire staples confirms that Schubert had no reason to second-guess himself when it came to proportion. Both the effusively expressive B flat Trio, D898, Op 99, and hearty E flat Trio, D929, Op 100, unfold with all the inevitability the composer likely hoped to achieve. They contain some of Schubert's most stirring writing, their songful gestures rubbing shoulders with ideas of vigorous inspiration.
The key to success in the trios is lyricism, which the Gryphon musicians acknowledge to flowingly poetic effect. Even when Schubert is at his most playful, these artists maintain a sure sense of singing line, as well as interplay that is as natural as spontaneous conversation.
As played by violinist Annalee Patipatanakoon, cellist Roman Borys and pianist Jamie Parker, the radiance, serenity and vitality in these works come across with a keen blend of sweep and nuance. Balances, so difficult to accomplish in this instrumentation, are carefully set, and each player evidently knows his or her primary or secondary place in the evolving narratives.
Schubert lovers who are taken with his monumental piano trios will relish the single movements he composed early and late in his career for the same complement. The Gryphon players invest the invigorating movement in B flat, D28, and tranquil E flat trio movement entitled Notturno, D897, Op posth 148, with the same zest and affection they bring to the well known works.
– Donald Rosenberg, Gramophone