Piano Trio No.3 in C minor, Op.101
Piano Trio in E flat, D929
Sitkovetsky Trio [Alexander Sitkovetsky (violin), Leonard Elschenbroich (cello) & Wu Qian (piano)]
Recorded at Wigmore Hall, London on 19 September 2013
Reviewed by: Colin Anderson
Reviewed: April 2015
CD No: WIGMORE HALL LIVE
Duration: 69 minutes
Brahms’s C minor Piano Trio is initially given a muscular if pliant outing, but it is difficult to dislodge Decca’s version of this compact if packed-full work with Suk, Starker and Katchen. Their first movement has immediate command and a deep eloquence that sets it apart. The Sitkovetsky team comes more into its own for a quicksilver account of the scurrying second movement and a sensitive and fluid realisation of the slow one. The whole is rounded by a probing examination of the finale. The excellent recorded sound is well-balanced and faithful to this illustrious venue, and although the performance attracts applause, it is the first time that an audience has been noticed.
Similarly, Schubert’s expansive E flat Piano Trio proceeds without such outside interference. It’s a splendid account, with plenty of impulse and without undue heaviness, the first movement alive and spontaneous with moments that perchance to dream. Leonard Elschenbroich introduces the sublime slow movement with exceptional expressiveness and his colleagues follow suit; this is an ensemble that plays for one another, and for us. The canonic interplay of the Scherzo is given requisite shape, and the Trio is suitably pesante in its emphases. It was a good idea for the performers to observe the first-movement exposition repeat, for it balances the lengthy finale (here both are roughly fifteen minutes each, although there is a minute’s worth of clapping retained in the booklet’s timing), itself tripping innocently at the outset before developing into something far-reaching (and with a return of the Andante’s cello tune). The Sitkovetsky Trio do it proud to seal an impressive performance.