1. Piano Trio No. 1 in D Minor Op49 - Molto allegro agitato
2. Piano Trio No. 1 in D Minor Op49 - Andante con moto tranquillo
3. Piano Trio No. 1 in D Minor Op49 - Scherzo
4. Piano Trio No. 1 in D Minor Op49 - Finale
5. Variations Concertantes for Cello and Piano in D Major Op17
6. Piano Trio No.2 in C Minor Op66 - Allegro energico e con fuoco
7. Piano Trio No.2 in C Minor Op66 - Andante espressivo
8. Piano Trio No.2 in C Minor Op66 - Scherzo
9. Piano Trio No.2 in C Minor Op66 - Finale
10. Albumblatt for Piano in E Minor Op117
11. Song Without Words for Cello and Piano in D Major Op109
For a long time Mendelssohn’s First Piano Trio has been much more popular than its successor but today it seems easier to appreciate the two as equal but different; the memorable melodies of the one complemented by the darker, more intense mood of the other.
This new recording trades the beautiful clarity of the fine 2003 account by the Florestan Trio for a richer, more resonant sound; if the Florestan present Mendelssohn as a Classicist, Lucy Gould and her colleagues stress his Romantic side, his ability to contrast different shades of emotion and create powerful, evocative musical landscapes. For instance, I love the way the Gould Trio refuse to accept the First Trio’s Andante as a sweet, pretty song without words but search out all the expressive details of harmony and melody, giving the piece its own unique character.
Throughout the performances, Benjamin Frith revels in the brilliance of Mendelssohn’s pianism, yet without overshadowing the strings who, in their turn, enjoy finding tones of gentleness, solemnity or agitation as the music suggests. The two Scherzos are models of confident, precise ensemble playing, while the extraordinary finale of the Second Trio brings forth playing that moves with absolute conviction from the intensity of its earlier part to its triumphant conclusion, inspired by a Lutheran chorale melody.
The other items, comprising Mendelssohn’s shorter works for cello and piano, are just as convincing, the Variations concertantescombining brilliance with expressive warmth, while in the Song Without Words, Alice Neary’s tone and phrasing combine to give her line a truly vocal quality.