This collection brings together three of the most often-played trios for horn, violin, and piano. The Brahms is of course the granddaddy of the genre, and remains unsurpassed in its expressive range, inventiveness, and exploitation of the potential of each of the instruments. (Probably the only other horn trio in its league is Ligeti's.) Lennox Berkeley wrote his attractive trio for Dennis Brain, the British horn virtuoso, who inspired a number of works in the 1940s and 1950s, including Britten's Serenade for tenor, horn, and strings and Canticle III. Brain's recording of the Berkeley (made with violinist Manoug Parikian and pianist Colin Horsely) treats it more as "modern music" and emphasizes its spikiness, while on this recording, hornist Hector McDonald, violinist John Harding, and pianist Ian Munro bring out its strong lyricism in a very persuasive performance. In contrast, their performance of the Brahms is emotionally reserved, missing the sweeping Romantic impulse that the trio needs. Rhythmically it's somewhat square, always just a little on the slow side, with a pastel dynamic range that doesn't do justice to the work's expressive breadth. The performance is fully competent, (which is no small achievement in itself) but fails to stir the blood, as this piece can so easily do. Banks' Trio is idiomatically written, but lacks a strong character and ultimately comes off more as an exercise in note spinning than a work of much substance. Tall Poppies' sound is realistic in the sense of a live performance (which this was not), but it lacks the clarity, separation, and presence of a good studio recording.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins
|Trio for horn, violin & piano, Op. 44|
|Trio for horn, violin & piano|
|Trio for horn (or viola or cello), violin & piano in E flat major, Op. 40|