REEL IN THIS ZESTY, BRACING, SPIRITED "TROUT"
Melvyn M. Sobel | Freeport (Long Island), New York | 11/03/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"We all know Schubert's "Trout." By heart, probably. It one of the many "staples" of classical music that easily ensnares novitiates (like I once was thirty-five years ago) by its tunefulness, wit and penultimate charm. It's also, unfortunately, the kind of work that--- so indelibly ensconced in our psyches--- tends to fall by the musical wayside as our "tastes" develop and we move on to what we think are more "sophisticated" compositions. In essence, we become a tad jaded, if not downright snobby.
What? Yet another Schubert "Trout" spawned onto CD? (We might say, for instance.) There are already enough versions to stock a small aquarium! And, besides, who ever listens to THIS old warhorse anymore, anyway? (We might add.)
This was EXACTLY what I was thinking as I lifted this 1995 SONY release from the library bin. I was fishing around for something new to interest me (that I don't have readily available)... and... I hooked this, instead.
But, honestly, I think it hooked me! Whatever mindset I had was completely washed away after my first hearing.
No pedestrian performance, this! Quite the opposite. I doubt I've heard more delightful, infectious, joyous playing in a good long while. These musicians, stellar all, are simply having a grand time--- and it radiates throughout every movement. There is verve here, and depth, and surprising wit. Schubert would have delighted in this glorious ensemble. And so will you. This is a magical, glowing, exuberant, life-affirming, smile-raising "Trout." A "Trout" for all seasons, as it were.
The Arpeggione Sonata, D. 821, performed by Ax and Ma, is no less beautifully done. It's a sublime reading filled with real Schubertian depth. Ma's playing is particularly fetching. Just right. Warm and full of melancholy. Ax supports him admirably.
Barbara Bonney's rendition of Die Forelle, D. 550 is a nice closing addition. Ax's rippling piano is delicious.
Glowing, full sound from the SONY engineers.
[Running time: 64:50]"
Excellent Trout, Sublime Arpeggione
Istvan Simon | Pleasanton, CA USA | 01/18/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Trout piano quintet is one of Schubert's most beloved compositions and among the most popular chamber music pieces of all time. It abounds with wonderful melodies uniquely Schubertian, and being a youthful work has a unique exuberance and happinness throughout. It was a commissioned work, by an amateur musician who apparently was a great admirer of Schubert's earlier simple little song entitled the "Trout" ( also included on the record). It is not known whether he asked Schubert to include in the commisioned work a reminder of the song or whether this was Schubert's idea of rewarding this early fan. Whatever the origins, the fourth movement is a set of amazing variations on this lovely song. Each variation highlights one of the players, and shows great mastery and imagination of the young composer.There are many excellent recordings of the Trout, and this is one of them. The playing is excellent with each part lovingly performed. Though Yo Yo Ma is undoubtedly the superstar of this group, this is a group effort, no one's playing outshining any of the others. Overall, a wonderful and satisfying performance.I doubt that I would have bought this recording if it only contained the Arpeggione Sonata, which follows the quintet on the CD. Yet as soon as it started, I realized that I was listening to an extraordinary performance. This is absolutely superb exquisite cello playing, ably supported by Emannuel Ax's piano. It has quickly become one of my favorite recordings. It's amazing the depth that Yo Yo Ma has brought to this little piece. The Arpeggione sonata is so called because it was written for the now extinct Arpeggione instrument, which was a cross between a Guitar and a Cello. It's enthusiastic inventor asked Schubert to compose a piece for it, and so this is another comissioned piece by another minor patron of the arts. We should be grateful for these simple folks that loved Schubert's work enough to pay for his compositions, and thus kept the struggling genius from even worse abject poverty in which he lived most of his short life. The Arpeggione is long dead, and nowadays the sonata is performed mostly on the cello, though there are transcriptions to guitar and other instruments as well.As I said earlier, Yo Yo Ma and Ax's reading is an absolute delight. His tone is marvelous, the intonation perfect, the phrasing exquisite. It seems just absolutely right at every turn. Played on the Cello this sonata is a very hard, demanding virtuosistic piece, since the Arpeggione had six strings, and it's highest string was tuned a full fifth higher than the Cello's. Thus the cellist is often faced with playing in the highest reaches of the instrument, and often very demanding passages at that. Yo Yo Ma's playing seems totally effortless in all of this. More importantly, this is no mere fireworks, but instead it is virtuosity always subordinated to the music itself. Ma and Ax find unsuspected depth in this unassuming piece. The slow movement is moving and intimate, beautiful beyond words. Highly recommended."
Adequate trout, inspiring Arpeggione
Thomas Yu | Mountain View, CA | 08/18/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This is an adequate rendition of the Trout; it definitely has its moments of inspiration, especially in the Scherzo. However, the Thema lacks the refinement and dramatism of a truly spectacular performance...although the musical intentions of the performers are evident.The real gem of this CD is the first movement of the Arpeggione. The chemistry between Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax is superb, and Ma plays the cello with the agility of a violin."