Mendelssohn: Piano Trios Nos. 1 & 2

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While Mendelssohn dabbled at one point or another in virtually every genre of chamber music that was fashionable during his lifetime, his two piano trios are undoubtedly his most frequently performed and revered today. Schumann understated the popularity these works would have when he suggested they would still be enjoyed by that generation's grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They build on the independence of instruments begun by Beethoven, and transform the piano trio into a genre in which three virtuosic soloists together created a unified ensemble. Just such a group is the ATOS trio, an ensemble founded in 2003 that quickly went on to win the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson International Trio Award. While each member possesses polished, refined technical skills, it's clear in listening that the aim is to create a homogenous sound and texture in which individual lines are still allowed to shine through when appropriate. The playing style is ideally suited to Mendelssohn: nimble, sprightly, detailed, and meticulous. The group ise unafraid when it comes to exaggerating contrasts in dynamics, tempos, and textures without ever crossing the line into absurdity. The interpretations are edgy and full of successful risk-taking; ambitious tempo choices are executed with control, keeping listeners constantly on the edge of their seats. ATOS continues to produce exceptionally strong performances, and listeners unfamiliar with their work would certainly do well to start with this disc.

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