A previous reviewer calls this the essential Trout Quintet because it sounds joyful, naming the very quality that is sorely absent. It's problematic when a listener has decades of experience with a work that a new generation is just coming to. I can't hear this new Trout, with its scampering mood, at times simpering phrasing, and ever-so-light touch without comparing it to great performances that have moved me in the past, from Clifford Curzon and the Amadeus Quartet to Yo-Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax and friends. The weakest link here is the pianist. The Capucon brothers are regular partners with Frank Braley, whose primary virtue is that he gets out of their way.
A disappointing evening occurred at the Proms in London last summer when Martha Argerich cancelled at the last minute and Braley was called in to fill out Beethoven's Triple Cto. What I heard then is what I hear on this CD - elegant, underpowered playing without a trace of personality. Usually the piano dominates the texture, but except when Braley engages in some sparkling fast passagework, which he is good at, he contributes very little compared with Rudolf Serkin from Marloboro, Ax, Curzon, James Levine, or Brendel in his two recordings. Yet clearly the Capucons want to communicate a different Trout, springtime fresh, so to speak. What they end up with sounds superficial to me. The French used to snub Schubert' now the strategy seems to be to snub the tradition that revered him.
Schubert's Variations on Trockne Blumen are beloved by flutists but, frankly, interminable for the average listener. Since I'm allergic to the flute, the prospect of an arrangement for violin held some appeal. Renaud Capucon is a major talent, and I did find his performance not interminable. There is so much beautiful writing in this score that I'm grateful that I could pay attention without squirming. The encore is a touching violin arrangement of Schubert's wonderful song Litanei (not Litanie as the Amazon review writes), although for me any instrumental version of Schubert lieder is half a loaf.