The fact that Pfitzner remained a firm romanticist all his life, and rather conservatively so, perhaps, might to some extent tend to thwart our recognizing the originality and craftsmanship his music actually displays. The 1918 violin sonata is thus a quite noteworthy work, but it remains at least superficially in the mold of Schumann rather even than Brahms, but with a capricious, nervous streak and a depth of feeling that might disclose it as an early 20th century work, especially in the impressive slow movement, which builds up to an emotional climax worthy of Brahms if not in his style. The first movement is well-crafted and confident, if not particularly memorable, and the final movement, brings a sparkling, fiery but somewhat one-dimensional conclusion. It is an impressive and quite original work, even if I wouldn't place it among Pfitzner's very best.
The early trio (1896) is an ambitious work, and a somewhat remarkable one. It is, in fact, more Brahmsian than the sonata, resourceful and with imaginative and creative use of the thematic material with ingenious cross-references, for instance, and superbly written for the instruments. It also contains a welter of good ideas, but I am less convinced that the whole unruly beast adds up to a cohesive unit. The opening movement is confident and assertive, but the slow movement surprisingly dark and turbulent. The third movement is carefree and cheerful, and the finale - perhaps the most impressive movement here - is wild and dramatic but offset by some mysterious, darkly probing contemplative moments.
The performances are very good, however - vivid and detailed and dramatic - and so is the sound quality. This might not be the best place to start one's exploration of this extremely rewarding composer, but it is still a very fine disc that deserves to be heard.