Christian Tetzlaff / Tanja Tetzlaff / Lars Vogt

Brahms: The Piano Trios

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The Brahms piano trios are subtle works only slightly resembling the more outward and active string quartets and piano quartets and quintets. Despite the low opus number of the Piano Trio No. 1 in B major, Op. 8, these are all three really late works: Brahms revised his youthful trio in 1889, largely keeping the themes, but redoing the inner content in the dense motivic manner of the composer's late style. The 1889 version of the trio is frequently played, but one of the many attractions of this German recording of the three trios is that violinist Christian Tetzlaff, his cellist sister Tanja Tetzlaff, and pianist Lars Vogt get the distinctively inward nature of the reworking, the only such piece in the Brahms catalog. There are many other attractions: the almost trance-like quality of the slow movements (sample that of the Piano Trio No. 3 in C minor, Op. 101, CD 1, track 7); the low-key dynamics of the whole thing, which more closely resemble the rooms in which the music would have been heard than do the big symphony halls where Brahms is usually played; the superb studio sound from the Ondine label, which fits the aims of the performers exceptionally well. This performance avoids the sweeping Romantic Brahms mode, but neither could it be called intellectual: it is, rather, intimate and extremely intelligent. A fine set that will provide years of satisfying listening.

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