Guarneri Trio

Brahms: Piano Trios, Vol. 2

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One of the harshest self-critics in the history of music, Johannes Brahms is also famously purported to have burned pages upon pages of manuscripts of works he felt did not live up to his standards. Historians and lovers of his music have long wondered what treasures may have been lost forever at the composer's own hand. This Praga Digitals album attempts to satisfy this curiosity with a performance of a Piano Trio in A major that has been attributed to Brahms, though the exact authorship is far from certain. The trio would have been written early in Brahms' career, at about the same time as the Op. 8 Trio. In fact, the enclosed liner notes draw many parallels between this posthumous publication and the Op. 8 in an attempt to justify calling it Brahms. Why Praga then went on to program the Op. 87 Trio on the album rather than Op. 8 is a mystery. By comparison, Op. 87 is infinitely more refined and sophisticated than its A major discmate, making it a bit of a hard sell as a long-lost Brahms composition. Performing is the Guarneri Trio Prague. Though generally acceptable, the performance is marred by one continuous, recurring problem: sloppy articulation in the strings. With so many passages being performed in unison or octaves, the lack of rhythmic precision and carefully matched articulation goes from mildly troubling at the beginning of the disc to downright annoying by the end. Still, listeners who are interested in deciding for themselves if they believe this A major Trio is in fact from the master's pen will still find a home for this disc.

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