String Trios – Dohnányi, Martinů & Schoenberg

0 of 5 stars

Serenade in C for string trio, Op.10
String Trio No.2
String Trio, Op.45

Leopold String Trio [Marianne Thorsen (violin), Lawrence Power (viola) & Kate Gould (cello)]

Recorded in Henry Wood Hall, London between 22-24 December 2003

Reviewed by: Colin Anderson

Reviewed: May 2005
Duration: 56 minutes

A diverse collection of music for string trio, the only connection being that all three works were written in the twentieth century, albeit only just in the case of Ernö (Ernst von) Dohnányi’s contribution. The capriciousness of this five-movement work, written in 1902, is infectious: the swaggering opening ‘Marcia’ with its rustic allusions and resonant melodies, the open-hearted ‘Romanza’, the deft ‘Scherzo’, the twilight warmth of the ‘Variations’, and the playful finale. Dohnányi enticingly fuses Hungarian (Magyar) material with his unmistakable kinship to Brahms; this flavoursome piece is most attractive and inventive.

Coming directly after the Dohnányi, as the CD’s central item, Schoenberg’s 1946 String Trio makes a stern contrast. This masterpiece of structure and programme, the composer’s almost-immediate musical response to a near-fatal heart attack, contains music of extremes, highly concentrated in form and ravenous of effects. For all the work’s rigorous construction this is vividly communicative music full of human emotion, and bristling with incident, which the Leopold String Trio does full justice to; a superbly ‘understood’ and dramatic rendition.

Martinů’s Paris-written, two-movement String Trio (1934) is a delightfully unpredictable work – a variety of tempos, a quixotic response to development, and a fecund imagination regarding texture. Whether busy, eloquently lyrical or rhythmically ingenious (the latter especially evident in the second movement’s Czech inflections), Martinů covers a lot of ground in 15 minutes.

Formed in 1991, the Leopold String Trio’s fine individual playing and responsive teamwork has been lucidly recorded.

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