Great Piano Trios / Grands trios avec piano 9CD Box set
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The piano trio gained popularity in the second half of the 18th century with the introduction of the pianoforte. The new instrument, more expressive than its predecessors, thrilled musicians and fans alike. Composers rushed to create works showcasing its possibilities resulting in the creation of chamber music intended for performance within the family or among friends.
Any decision to record the complete works of a single composer holds particular interest for performers. Especially when these works encompass the whole of an artist’s career, they allow the listener to trace a striking portrait of the evolution of the composer’s language. The works recorded here by the Gryphon Trio are snapshots of the composer’s lives. They invite us to join them on an interior journey. Juxtaposed with the early works, the mature works speak to us in a new way: exciting in the listener a desire to understand more deeply musical evolution of their creators.
This 9 CD Box Set features works by: Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn and Shostakovich
Le trio avec piano obtient ses premières lettres de noblesse dans la seconde moitié du 18e siècle, alors que les amateurs s'emballent pour ce nouvel instrument, le pianoforte, moins limité au niveau de l'échelle de nuances. En écho à cet engouement, les compositeurs se hâtent de lui offrir un répertoire mettant en valeur ses capacités, dont de nombreuses pages de musique de chambre, à s'approprier en famille ou entre amis. Instantanés d'une vie, d'une époque, les trios interprétés ici par le Gryphon Trio invitent au voyage intérieur. Juxtaposées aux pages de jeunesse, les oeuvres de maturité nous parlent autrement, nous font vibrer, en une volonté consciente de mieux connaître le parcours de ceux qui les ont initiées.
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I initially came across this set on my search for a more romantic alternative to the benchmark Fontenay recording of the Mozart trios. These are fine recordings in that style; much better sound than the alternatives.
These Mendelssohn recordings could serve anyone as a library set. They seem perfectly in tune with the composer.
This set marked the beginning of my return to Beethoven after a break of many years. In terms of first class luxury-standard playing (as opposed to string snapping 'authenticity') I can't imagine there's much better. (The single movement trios are omitted.)
As you might suspect, the virtues I've described the Gryphons as possessing do not make them the most apt performers for Shostakovich's earthy and angsty trio no.2. If you abhor these qualities of the composer, perhaps this is the performance to win you over? In the early single-movement trio they are much more successful. If you haven't heard this overlooked work it's well worth hearing.
The strangest thing about this set is the Schubert trios. Admittedly these works are much harder to get right than their ubiquity would suggest, but given the Gryphons' above successes, it's a surprise that these performances ultimately flop. Perhaps this is a problem of recording a sweeping cycle, when these works require long careful study (or perhaps I don't yet know the works well enough to judge?). The two single-movement trios are more successful.
I hope you'll have seen from my commentary that there is a lot to like about this set, particularly if the musical approach suits you. And as I said, the playing and recorded sound are exemplary. In terms of economy, I think it would make sense to simply buy this set rather than get individual discs (except perhaps the Beethoven CD with the "Ghost" trio, surprisingly inexpensive at the moment). The Mozart set is expensive on its own, and the Mendelssohn trios were originally split across two releases with trios by Lalo and Dvorak.
The Gryphons also recorded a disc of Haydn trios which we could wish was in this set, but as with Dvorak this was probably excluded to make what is here in some sense "complete".