on 7 August 2010
After discovering Hans Gál's complete oeuvres for pianoforte recently (under the Avie label), further delights and absorption are to be found in the composer's piano trios. I am temping to call his opus 18 Trio (1924) a masterpiece, for this is music of a very high order: lush, profound, serene, and so individual and unpretentious. The writing is so assured and its earnestness never in doubt. The first movement (tranquillo ma con moto) is searchingly beguiling, the mood nostalgic, very much in the neighborhood of Myaskovsky, Bortkiewicz, Diamond, and Ireland. Surface matters do not apply here, for the language penetrates the subconscious. Already in the very first bars of the trio do you sense something on the horizon. The second movement (allegro violento) has a fiery beginning, but by 1:31, the mood becomes noble, yet penetrating. Anyone familiar with, say, Myaskovsky's Cello Sonatas, will find much in common here (and to your liking I promise). The finale (adagio mesto) has a dark beginning, but the mood lifts ebulliently yet without the superficiality that would've undermine the meaning and the communicative impact of the work.
The shorter op. 49b Trio (1949) comes much later, and the idyllic feeling of the first movement (moderato e tranquillo) predominates. The lushness in the earlier trio is replaced here with a greater sense of simplicity in expression, as though one is just laying back and watches the world go by. The mood is less profound than the op. 18 Trio, but it's far from being shallow or facile. It is, as Myaskovsky's Second Cello Sonata (1946), a calm, peaceful reflection shortly after the tragedies of the Second Great War. The second movement (pastorale: andantino) is gleeful while the finale (marche burlesque) is exactly that, burlesque, but not without meaning. Again, surface matters remain inapplicable. The Variations on a Popular Viennese Tune (1914), placed in-between the trios, is an attractive, quite ingenious filler to this wonderful album.
And yes, this album is wonderful in every way possible, and not just because of the extremely well-crafted, meaningful music. The players convey every ounce of enjoyment and commitment to the music (and to the cause). Doris Adam (pianist) is simply superb. She really captures the emotionalism euphoniously and with style and depth. How she conveys the first bar of the opus 18 Trio with that arresting inevitability about it is beyond me, and her sister, violinist Karen Adam, meets her all the way. Christoph Stradner (cello) brings profundity to the playing where needed, and the intonation is ideal. And of course, a recording must help in conveying the depth of the music fully and with warmth, and Camerata succeeds in that admirably. Presentation likewise is excellent overall, with Otto Biba's annotations that are scholastic in its details and the players' biographies that enhance our appreciations of them, of their musicianship, and of their love for music: the love that is of full, unapologetic presence from the very first second of this album to the very last.