I heard the Notturno on the radio and wondered why I didn't know this lovely piece of Schubert. I already knew the two piano trios and own recordings but somehow here was a fabulous piece I'd completely missed - an exciting discovery. I searched for a recording - many were expensive or hard to get hold of but I thought I'd try this Naxos version on the strength of the reviews and previous good experiences with the label. This CD far exceeded my expectations! What a fabulous performance. I'm very fussy about intonation and the beauty (or otherwise) of vibrato, and I dislike abrupt and affected tempo changes, but here the strings play with beautiful intonation and gorgeous harmony, bringing out both the loveliness and excitement of the pieces. The piano playing is equally superb, the trio performs together in organic, sweet, vivacious concord. What a super medium for passionate music the piano trio is! Don't be put off by the old fashioned cover - thoroughly recommended and a supreme bargain to boot.
I find it hard to understand why this fine recording has attracted so little attention from either critics or buyers. Perhaps it is because it was made in the early days of Naxos, before the world woke up to what Heymann was doing in Hong Kong. But with its companion disc of the B flat trio it deserves appreciation.
First, the recording quality is superb. The respected Heidelberg studio van Geest has produced a beautifully balanced, lifelike sound, with the three performers naturally presented in an airy acoustic which allows one to feel that one is present and at a comfortable listening distance.
Secondly the performance. Though not (I believe) internationally renowned, the Stuttgart Trio give a superb straightforward performance of these masterworks from the very end of Schubert's life, without idiosyncrasies, simply allowing the music to speak for itself, which is most eloquently does. The main work is conceived on a symphonic scale, and brilliantly carried off. The single movement filler (Notturno) is no less inspired, tranquil, valedictory. Both are deeply satisfying.
It has been said that Schubert's music is "performance-proof". It isn't, though most of it demonstrates excellently the adage that "if a thing is worth doing, it's worth doing badly"! For me, the justly highly-respected Beaux Arts trio have to take second place the the Stuttgart group. Somehow the Beaux Arts never get to the heart of things, but remain somehow on the surface, a failing the Stuttgarters certainly do not show.
I'd be quite happy to have this as my sole recording of these works, though it is interesting to hear the Florestans' (another fine performance) recording of the original, longer, final movement which is offered as an alternative. (My own view is that Schubert's revised version is in fact an improvement, tautening the musical argument as it does.)
These Piano Trios are wonderful, Schubert is a master of the genre, well played & recorded on a good quality very modestly priced CD. I bought it mainly for 'Il Noturno" which is beautiful, but the other recording are very good indeed, I've never been that keen on Schubert, but this has changed my opinion. Marvellous!!
I was inspired by Stanley Kubrick's film, Barry Lyndon, to invest in this piece by Schubert. The second movement of D929 was featured in the film in a very atmospheric way. But, hey, this is Schubert after all and is well worth having in anyone's collection.