Constantly shifting from the most impulsive exuberance to the most restrained meditation, from the most intense passion to the most innocent tenderness, this programme forms a representative panorama of Schumann’s chamber music. Going beyond the piano trios, which already give us a fully rounded account of Schumann, Trio Wanderer have invited their favourite partners to join them for their interpretation of two supreme masterpieces - the Piano Quartet and Piano Quintet.
The Wanderers are among the elite piano, violin and cello combinations, and these great works are signature pieces: they take their name from the Schubert song and these pieces are cornerstones of their repertoire (previously available separately)
The Trio Wanderer is a French piano trio made up of Vincent Coq piano, Jean-Marc Phillips-Varjabédian (since 1995, replacing Guillaume Sutre) violin and Raphaël Pidoux cello. Trio Wanderer’s members were all graduated from the Conservatoire de Paris. The Trio Wanderer’s new disc, centred around Rachmaninov’s youthful trios, has all the finesse and subtlety that we’ve long associated with this French ensemble. From the start, though, one thing struck me – how curiously un-Russian these pieces sound in their hands. It’s partly due to their emphasis on clarity of texture, together with a certain Classical restraint.
The combination of Tchaikovsky's Piano Trio in A minor, Op. 50, with Anton Arensky's Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, Op. 32, is a common one, for the two works were both written as memorials to instrumentalists. Good recordings in the stereo era go back to one recorded by Yefim Bronfman, Cho-Liang Lin, and Gary Hoffman on Sony some years ago, but the present release can stand with such classics. The two trios share an unusual mix of passionate virtuosity and elegiac quality, as if to remember the powers of the deceased player. Tchaikovsky's trio is a massive work, clocking in at well over 40 minutes even at the brisk tempos at which it is taken here.
When Shostakovich wrote his Piano Quintet in 1940, most of his chamber music had yet to be composed. Combining formal purity and freedom of tone, the quintet was hailed as a masterpiece and has remained his most popular chamber work. In the last years of a long and productive life, he composed a cycle of songs with piano trio, innovative in both form and structure, a hymn to art, friendship and nature possessing extraordinary evocative power. To tackle these major works of the twentieth century, the Trio Wanderer are joined here by violinist Catherine Montier, violist Christophe Gaugué, and mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Semenchuk.
likely to divide listeners. Some may object to French players performing Austro-German music, while others will embrace the notion of musical internationalism. Others may object to first-rate Schubert being joined to second-rate Hummel, while others will enjoy the chance to hear an unfamiliar as well as a familiar work. After they hear it, however, most listeners will likely agree on two things. First, they will likely find that the French players do a marvelous job of breathing life into both these works.
The great popularity of the piano trio enabled Haydn to explore countless formal and harmonic experiments; while the keyboard remains the central element in the musical structure, the strings give the discourse a subtle colouration, and the violin is often assigned independent musical ideas. This elegant three-way dialogue, conducted here by the Trio Wanderer, is as impressive for its originality as for its supreme stylistic virtuosity. Haydn was a past master at this little game, and still remains so centuries later!