I've always thought that if you put Mozart and Beethoven together you'd get Mendelssohn, and these two piano trios bear me out (I think) - they combine the melodic genius and lightness of Mozart with the passion that characterises Beethoven. Put quite simply, I think the D minor is the best piano trio I have ever come across, with the C minor not far behind.
The D minor trio, and in particular its first movement, is filled with sensuous melodies, the cello generally being favoured to take them. Backed up with a formidable piano part (and I know from experience, it is truly formidable!) the piece combines outbursts of fiery passion with some of the most beautiful moments of any chamber work I know. And some of the harmonies in here are just heartbreaking - I really think Mendelssohn's gift for ingenious harmony and orchestration, even within just three players, is second to none.
The two works are executed flawlessly here, the piano thankfully not dominating as in some trios, and although the playing is virtuosic it is never over the top. The Gould trio effectively convey the easy fluency of Mendelssohn's style, while also really laying into the more empassioned sections, giving it the depth which some misguided critics say is lacking in his music. Like I said, Mozart and Beethoven combined.
Altogether, listening to these pieces, and in particular on this recording, makes you wonder why Mendelssohn is not ranked higher in popular conceptions of composers. These trios easily rank alongside any piano chamber works before them, and most after too. Seriously stunning, a worthy addition to the CD collection!