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Mendelssohn - Piano Trios & Variations Concertantes CD

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Audio CD, CD, 2 Oct 2006
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Product details

  • Audio CD (2 Oct. 2006)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Onyx
  • ASIN: B000I2KJ88
  • Other Editions: Audio CD
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 598,585 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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Product Description

In January 1832 Felix Mendelssohn wrote to his sister Fanny, declaring: I would like to compose a couple of good piano trios . He had already written one piano trio before he was eleven now lost but it was not until 1839 that Op.49 appeared, to be hailed by Schumann as the master trio of the age, as were the Bb and D major Trios of Beethoven and the Eb Trio of Schubert . Mendelssohn s supremely confident work, with its clear understanding of the multi-faceted relationship between the three instruments, is indeed one of his most successful creations, a status which, as Schumann s appraisal seems to suggest, owes much the composer s fusion of the formal gravitas of Beethoven with the harmonic twists of Schubert. In the superbly-wrought first movement Mendelssohn immediately plunges the listener into an intense sound-world. An expansive and melancholic opening theme on the cello is taken up by the violin, while the piano accentuates the troubled atmosphere with undulating textures. The sunny second subject, in A major, offers respite before the onset of the development, marked agitato. The piano s virtuosic role in this movement is representative of the whole Trio; in contrast the violin and cello are more frequently called upon to articulate Mendelssohn s thematic material, the taut integration of which allows them less opportunity for conventional displays of brilliance. Yet they shine in other ways, with soaring lyricism and close-knit, singing duets. The Andante opens with a delicate melody, played by the piano alone like a Song Without Words. Later come dramatic alternations between Bb minor and Db major but these only briefly ruffle the prevailing Schubertian calm. While the first two movements demonstrate Mendelssohn s melodic facility, the Scherzo displays the composer s affinity for brilliant up-tempo music, as already seen in the Octet and A Midsummer Night s Dream. Omitting the customary Trio, Mendelssohn opts instead for a skittish sonata-form movement full of quick-fire contrapuntal exchanges. The finale begins un poco tranquillo, but any real sense of serenity is swiftly undermined by enervating sforzandi. With moments of Beethovenian rhythmic drive, the score reads like a compendium of the various textures and sonorities of which this combination is capable. The second Trio op.66, begun in February 1845 and completed by the summer, was premiered at the Leipzig Gewandhaus with Mendelssohn at the piano, alongside the work s dedicatee, composer and virtuoso violinist Louis Spohr. The drama and tension of the work, particularly in the first movement, seem to herald the impulsive romanticism of Brahms early chamber masterpieces, in particular the Piano Trio op 8 and the Piano Quintet. There are backward glances too, particularly to Mendelssohn s beloved Bach, as in the contrapuntal finesse of the first movement development. Here the piano is again treated to an array of material: marked con fuoco, it veers between descending gestures in semiquavers, and clipped staccato chords. The cello s cantabile statement of the second theme precedes an exquisite episode of ascending triplets in the piano not the only surprising moment in this movement. So absorbing is the dramatic build-up that follows, that the recapitulation almost sidles in unannounced, to be followed by an entirely new sonority, marked tranquillo, lulling us into a false sense of security. The canonic coda returns us to the opening material, played simultaneously in its original form, and with augmented note-values. A final and poignant minor-key interjection of the second subject offers another unexpected interlude.


This recording certainly has great value...the renderings in question are top-notch; technical virtuosity featuring fantastic control of phrasing and balance...The Nash Ensemble is renowned for its many high-level performances, and it defends that reputation with fire on this second ONYX release...for the superior artistry of the Nash Ensemble, you shouldn't miss this one. --Fanfare,2006

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