Brahms
Piano Trios:
in B, Op.8
in C, Op.87
in C minor, Op.101
Nicholas Angelich (piano), Renaud Capuçon (violin) & Gautier Capuçon (cello)

Recorded December 2003 in Chambéry, Auditorium de la Cité des Arts
CD No: VIRGIN CLASSICS 5456532 (2 CDs)
Duration: 90’31”
Reviewed: May 2004
These are invigorating and sensitive accounts of Brahms’s generously expressed piano trios. Beautifully recorded too, with a tangibility and immediacy that is ideal for chamber music; although in fortissimos the closeness can be slightly wearing.
However, given these two CDs are selling for the price of one, then this new issue is a tempting addition to the collection. One thing these players do not leave any doubt over is Brahms’s passion and warmth; it’s not mawkishly presented though, for these excellent, strong-on-teamwork musicians have an overall view of Brahms’s structures that is satisfying, a whole view that is lovingly arrived at. It would be a hard heart indeed that didn’t respond to the ardour expressed in the first movement of the B major trio.
Throughout these performances, not only are the formal aspects of each movement attended to, but the music glows with an expressive intensity that is not allowed to dominate; dynamic and emotional contrasts sustain each movement in a most favourable way. Occasionally, there is a doubt as to how much pathos these works will yield, but these musicians just keep on the right side of overdoing it.
The C minor trio, the first movement containing one of Brahms’s most spontaneously moving ideas, is superbly done and comes close to Decca’s Katchen, Suk and Starker recording. High praise! All in all, a fine set of colourful and engaging renditions that will find a home with other distinguished versions of this wonderful music. I’m left feeling that anyone who might think Brahms’s chamber music is a little dour, might be converted by these enthusiastic, often burnished realisations.

 

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