I was drawn to this CD as a result of a chamber concert I went to recently, in which the wonderful Bristol-based group "Ystavaa" wowed the audience with (inter alia) the Mendelssohn D Minor Piano Trio.
Here we have Mendelssohn at his most intimate: it's almost like having the musicians playing by appointment in one's drawing room. If you know the composer from the orchestral snippets sometimes heard on Classic FM for instance, you can be reassured that his hand is very much evident in the small scale too: wonderful melodies, harmonies, inspired writing to leave you wanting more.
The Schubert E flat Major trio is a great partner on this CD; sometimes you may have difficulty (as I did) telling who is whom: the styles are similar, their genius is equally and manifestly present. If I had to make a criticism I would say that the last movement is a bit lengthy, but who am I to carp?
The Smetana Trio has won several BBC Music magazine awards over the last decade, and you can hear why: they are very accomplished, very together, and not at all interested in embellishing the written music, which speaks beautifully for itself.
Two very quiet noises can just be heard - one may be a chair creaking, the other possibly one of the performers, but I think it adds to the sense of being there, and I commend the producer for leaving in what could have been taken out or replayed.
I would have enjoyed a little more background acoustic, but I invariably say that, and it's a personal preference rather than a criticism.
Unreservedly recommended as a staple of the chamber music genre.