Incomplete Portrait of a Great Chamber Ensemble
Jeffrey Lipscomb | Sacramento, CA United States | 03/24/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Along with the Busch Trio (Adolph & Hermann Busch with Rudolf Serkin) and the Cortot-Thibaud-Casals Trio, the Trio di Trieste has long been one of my favorite piano trio ensembles. I have already reviewed a Trieste CD offering here at Amazon (plus comments on their earlier Archduke in a review of the Istomin-Stern-Rose account on Sony). So in brief I will say that their heartfelt expression, nearly telepathic unanimity of phrasing, and the nuanced pulse of their readings made the Trieste very special to hear. My chief reservations about this set: several of the Trieste's finest recordings are not included here, and the Schubert Trios don't find them at their very best.
As was the case with other recent DG multi-disc CD releases (e.g., Stefan Askenase's superb Chopin recordings and a fine set dedicated to conductor Hans Rosbaud), Amazon has oddly neglected to itemize the contents of these 5 discs. So here are the contents and their recording dates:
CD 1 has Vivaldi's Sonata C minor (1952), Rameau's Pieces de Clavecin (1952, arranged for piano trio by Saint-Saens), Haydn's "Gypsy" Trio, Beethoven's "Ghost" and the Mozart Trio K. 542 (all from 1954).
CD 2 includes Mozart's K. 502, Beethoven's "Archduke" (1959) and Variations op. 44 (1960), and Schubert's Sonata Movement in B flat major (1969).
CD 3 has Schubert's op. 99 (1959) and op. 100 (1965).
CD 4 features another Haydn Trio (1960), Brahms Trios op. 8 (1967) and op. 87 (1966).
CD 5 offers Brahms op. 101 (1966), Schumann's 1st Trio (1969), and the Ravel Piano Trio (1959).
The Vivaldi and Rameau are minor but charming items (I still have the 10-inch LPs of both). The Haydn "Gypsy" is a stellar account which, to my ears, eclipses the otherwise very fine Cortot/Thibaud/Casals. I prefer this superb Beethoven "Ghost" even to the excellent Busch Trio version, and both Mozart Trios are best-ever accounts. These were all made with the group's original personnel: pianist Dario de Rosa, cellist Libero Lana, and violinist Renato Zanettovich. Lana was replaced by Amedeo Baldovino in 1962.
This set's other highlights: the stylish Haydn Trio in E major and a gorgeous, unabashedly romantic interpretation of the Ravel. In the latter work, I also have a sentimental attachment to the Rouvier/Kantorow/Muller version (Erato CD), which figured so prominently in the soundtrack of the wonderful French film "Un Coeur en Hiver." I have never had an opportunity to hear the legendary Pasquier Trio version on a very rare Erato LP: a couple years ago a copy was auctioned at Ebay for around $400.
Unfortunately, the remaining items are a mixed bag. The Schubert and Brahms Trios are already available on separate CD issues from DG, and I have to echo Amazon Top 100 reviewer Michael Richman's complaints elsewhere about such un-necessary duplication by DG and other labels. The 1960 Beethoven "Archduke" here, while certainly distinguished, is a lesser effort than the Trieste's 1954 version (London LP), which was rhythmically more alert, had a far more profound account of the Largo, and was quite simply the greatest performance of the work I have ever heard. Likewise, the Brahms works fail to match the incandescence of the earlier mono recordings: in the op. 87 Trio, Baldovino's contribution lacks the poetry and fantasy of Lana on the London LP version (which also had much warmer and fuller sound). The Schumann is less engaged than their early Polydor Vox LP reading: preferable to either were the accounts by Cortot/Thibaud Casals (EMI) and Mannes/Gimpel/Silva (once on Decca LP, coupled with Schubert's lovely Nocturne).
As for the two Schubert Trios, I think the Trieste here was getting past its prime. Zennatovich's violin tone was starting to sound pretty threadbare, some of the phrasing had become a trifle precious, and unison playing was now a touch hard-boiled. In addition, this was sonically a poor period for DG: overly-bright treble, lacking in bass, and (most noticeably in op. 100) rather too-closely miked. When I switched over to Cortot et al in op. 99 (EMI) and, even more agreeably, to the Busch Trio's op. 100 (Sony), the music suddenly sprang to life again in all its glory. What wonderful playing! Incidentally, the op. 100 Trio's Andante was used to great effect in the film music of Stanley Kubrick's visual masterpiece "Barry Lyndon."
All things considered, this modestly-priced set is essential for its superb Haydn, Mozart, Ravel and the Beethoven Ghost. Hopefully, the Trieste's superior earlier renditions of the Archduke and the Brahms Trios will also appear on CD, along with their inimitable account of Dvorak's "Dumky" Trio.
Playing from another age--outstanding!
Iyer | Bethesda, MD | 02/24/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"While the appreciation of music is necessarily subjective, I find that I must try and redress the balance after Mr. Gardner's review (this forum is meant to guide, after all!)
[Please also review the wise and redoubtable Jeffrey Lipscomb, who brings an unmatched historical perspicacity to his reviews--thank you, Mr. Lipscomb.]
This set is, quite simply, some of the best chamber music playing that you will ever hear. I will confine myself to the Beethoven trios: I have not heard the London LP Archduke that Mr. Lipscomb mentions in his review, but the present Archduke is probably the greatest I have ever heard, the Ghost indubitably so. Libero Lana's cello playing is of a different order altogether from what one normally hears these days: his right hand is among the most nuanced I have heard and his bridgework brings out a level of expressivo that is to be heard to be believed (sample the scherzo, for instance). This was my first experience of Lana, and I was unable to sleep afterward from excitement! There is some superb Haydn playing here, especially hob xv: 28. I shall post more when I have worked my way through the Brahms and Ravel."