Klaviertrio Amsterdam

Schubert: Piano Trios Nos. 1 & 2; Notturno

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Among the dozens of available versions of Schubert's two piano trios, spacious and lyrical products of the end of the composer's life, these stand out among those available for a budget price; they are original recordings on the Dutch discount label Brilliant. The founder of the Klaviertrio Amsterdam is Hungarian-born pianist Klára Würtz, and those who have enjoyed her other performances of Viennese music will probably like these, as well, for one gets a strong sense that it is she who is driving the interpretations. Sample the first movement of the Piano Trio in E flat major, D. 929, to get an idea of how it works. The quintessentially Schubertian moment in this movement, uniting intense lyricism with a great step forward in chromatic harmony, is the appearance of the B minor second theme, so distant harmonically from the heavily triadic opening E flat theme. Würtz favors the intellectual over the emotional here. Note how she punches out the B flat dominants in the cadential material preceding the B minor theme, sharpening the contrast of color and then keeps to the trio's already brisk tempo, a click or two past the marked Allegro, as the actual theme begins. It's this way all the way through; you may wish for a bit more of the Schubertian melancholy, but the trio has a firm grip on these sprawling scores. The slow movements are lovely, with gorgeous cantabile melodies, and the Notturno in E flat major, D. 897, apparently a rejected slow movement for the Piano Trio in B flat major, D. 898, makes a deeply tranquil entr'acte here. The performances on the two CDs originated in different locations (and three years apart); the sound of the second, recorded at the mansion-like Onder de Linden concert hall, is superior. Brief booklet notes are in English only.

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