International Record Review – December 2012

GMCD 7384 – Trio Fontane

The members of Trio Fontane give an immensely impressive reading of the Beethoven. The instruments are well balanced and the players interactive as thoroughbred chamber musicians. Tempos are ideal in all four movements and the collective interpretation is searching, sensitive and meaningful, not least in terms of dynamic contrasts, phrasing and clarity; quite obviously the musicians have thought long and prepared assiduously.

The three-movement Smetana begins with an impassioned violin solo, ably taken by Noëlle Grüebler, her colleagues matching her for weight of sound and intense emotionalism. How well pianist Andrea Wiesli (also the booklet note writer) finds what one might term a Lisztian tone, having declared something lighter and crisper for the Beethoven. All three players bring depth of feeling and gusty attack to the first movement. The scurrying second movement is nimbly addressed and the Presto finale really scoots by but without any Sense of haste or blurring and enjoys well-wrought expansiveness for the closing bars before the dash to the finishing post.

Both these performances are inspiring, as persuasive interpretations of the Scores and as music-making per se. One now has complete faith in these players and if they consider the Piano Trio of Swiss composer Hans Schaeuble worth recording, then so should we. Not quite, in fact. Schaeuble (1906-88) wrote the work in 1960. It has four movements, the opening one lasting ten minutes, with the remaining ones about three minutes each. Stylistically Schaeuble is difficult to pin down. The opening movement, in which waltz time is important, sounds as if it could be from the early Part of the last century, composed by either Schoenberg or Ravel, or their acolytes. The second movement, Andante, is rather shadowy and troubled and leads to a syncopated Allegro, quite spiky, and this in turn folds into another Andante, unrelieved if returning to the Ravelian mood of the opening movement.

The work (more or less four movements in one) poses little problems for the listener, save for finding a distinct personality, but it is a sincere and skilled piece, admirably delivered by Trio Fontane. The recording is excellent in its tonal naturalness and balance if occasionally a little chilly.

Colin Anderson

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