Frank Braley / Gautier Capuçon / Renaud Capuçon

Schubert: Piano Trios Nos. 1 & 2

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The intense-looking trio of pianist Frank Braley and violin-cello brother duo Renaud and Gautier Capuçon has made a critical splash with innovative performances of standard chamber-music repertory in which they move confidently as a unit despite whatever unorthodoxies they may be propounding. Schubert's pair of trios, filled out with two shorter single movements for piano trio to make two short discs, offers a good introduction to their revisionism. In the Piano Trio No. 2 in E flat major, D. 929, the listener will immediately be struck by the brisk tempo of the opening movmement -- although it doesn't go beyond what the tempo marking of Allegro indicates, it's a good deal faster than the languid, lyrical tradition that has grown up around this work and around Schubert in general. The players' approach is rather cool and has the effect of deemphasizing the melodies in favor of the texture, which in Schubert might seem like a Reuben sandwich without the corned beef. But give the music a chance, and it'll grow on you. Both trios offer fully thought-out relationships among their constituent parts, and there are many remarkable moments. Consider the Andante con moto of the E flat trio. Again the tempo is pushed, to a very brisk walk, and the focus is placed on the inexorable accompanimental rhythms of the opening bars rather than on the seemingly more prominent mixed-mode tune heard in the piano. But the accompaniment idea is carried convicingly through the entire movement, resulting in an unprecedented explosion of pain in the fortissimo passage at the end of the movement's central section -- the players ally Schubert to Beethoven rather than to the later Romantics here, and the effect is both shocking and very carefully developed. In the end, these are important rehearings of works that stand out from among the dozens of available versions.

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