Swiss Piano Trio

Robert & Clara Schumann: Piano Trios, Op. 17, 88 & 110

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The Swiss Piano Trio released its album of Robert Schumann's Piano Trios No. 1 and No. 2 in 2011, so this follow-up in 2013 presents the Piano Trio No. 3 with Schumann's Fantasiestücke, Op. 88, and, perhaps of most interest, the seriously neglected Piano Trio in G minor by his wife, Clara Schumann. Because this piece is seldom heard, it's placed up front so it can't be missed, and listeners will find that it's complementary to the remaining works. Clara Schumann was the most famous female pianist of her time, though her compositions weren't given their due until late in the 20th century. Increased coverage has made them available to listeners, and her Piano Trio stands among her most finely crafted pieces. Despite its Classical form and clarity of themes and development, it is a moody Romantic piece in the vein explored by her husband, and its brooding melancholia is in keeping with mid-19th German chamber music. The compositions by her husband are in much the same autumnal, introspective style, and the program is balanced overall, with both piano trios being of almost identical length. The ensemble has a smooth and controlled approach to this music, and the richness of the strings is pleasantly blended with the rounded tone of the piano. What this disc lacks in brilliance it compensates with warmth, and the vibrant sonorities of the super audio surround sound format give the musicians a credible salon-like presence.

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