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  PentaTone Classics -
  PTC 5186 050
  Schubert: Piano Trios - Storioni Trio
  Schubert: Piano Trio No. 1 in B flat Op. 99, Piano Trio No. 2 in E flat Op. 100

Storioni Trio
Track listing:
  Classical - Chamber
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Related titles: 5

Reviews: 3

Site review by Castor June 28, 2007
Performance:   Sonics:  
The text for this review has been moved to the new site. You can read it here:

Site review by ramesh June 10, 2007
Performance:   Sonics:  
With some reservations for chamber music aficionados, this SACD is recommendable for all those interested in classical music. The two Schubert piano trios are some of the most important in the repertory. Generally, these works spread onto two SACDs. Although this disc totals a generous 79 1/2 minutes, PentaTone have disclosed that a couple of edits of repeats have been observed to fit these works onto one hybrid SACD. This means that the outer movements of the Second Trio last for 12:31 and 13:26, compared to my CD reference of the Schiff-Shiokawa-Perényi trio on Teldec which, with repeats, have durations of 16:01 and 19:27 respectively! The decision to edit the rather prolix Second Trio, is on balance, the correct option. This gives the SACD a significant price advantage, whilst making the heavenly lengths of the Second Trio more negotiable for all except the most loitering Schubertian.

The booklet writer claims that both these trios were completed within the last year of Schubert's life, along with the Great C major symphony. However, Graham Johnson in his voluminous notes to Volume 26 of the Hyperion Schubert song edition states that 'Des Sängers Habe' D832, composed in February 1825 has similar driving right-hand piano triplets to the opening movement of the First Trio. Moreover, both works are in B flat. Additionally, John Reed in his book, 'Schubert : the final years' [ Faber, 1972 ], spends several pages discussing thematic similarities of the First Trio to the Great C major symphony and the 1825 piano sonatas, as well as biographical evidence. Reed concludes that both the First Trio and the Great C major symphony were substantially or entirely composed in 1825, and hence do not belong to the tragic ambience of the greatest works of 1827-8.

The reason I deal with this chronology is that many of Schubert's greatest non-vocal works seem to be able to accommodate the widest range of performance tempi. The case of the andante of the Great C major symphony is a case in point. Marked 'andante con moto', as is the slow movement of the Second Trio, this work has been given a tragic cast in slow performances by Furtwängler and Giulini, and a brisk jaunt in the meadow by Toscanini, Munch in an RCA SACD, Krips and Solti. Although the Storioni take the slow movements of both trios at a leisurely 9:48 and 10:06, their performances of both trios stress the light over the shade.

Compared to the Cortot-Thibaud-Casals, Oistrakh and Schiff trios, the Storioni interpret the First Trio as a summery, optimistic excursion. Their interpretations hew more to the 'classical' than 'romantic' terms of expressiveness. This applies to both trios. Chamber music fans who have an unshiftable allegiance to the melancholic and demonic Schubert will dismiss these performances as lightweight, eg the 'plonking' and untragic opening piano repeated notes of the slow movement of the Second Trio. However, the music fully admits a classical interpretation, so long as it is consistent, rather than an accidental byproduct of musicians who have failed to penetrate into the composer's world. Listening to these interpretations several times, I feel that the Storioni have chosen this aesthetic approach deliberately, rather than due to any significant failure of artistic imagination. Compared to the Oistrakh and Cortot Trios, the development sections of the first two movements of the First Trio lack dramatic vigor, the full sense of overarching sonata architecture. However, the exposition of the first movement is splendid, neither over-accented nor too smooth, with an outstandingly sensitive cello entrance for the second subject. Compared to Oistrakh, the violinist in the scherzo of the First Trio doesn't have the power in the double stopping, and the bowing over alternating strings is less secure. Nevertheless, he blends in better with his colleagues compared to the virtuosos moonlighting with chamber musicians.

The magnificent recording, as it was in the Storioni's Beethoven Trios, tips the recommendation fully in favour of this SACD. In the June 2007 issue of the audiophile journal 'Stereophile', an interview with Bea Lam of the Vacuum Tube Logic company reveals that she utilises the famous late 1950s recording of Clifford Curzon's performance with Viennese strings of Schubert's 'Trout' Quintet to voice their amplifiers. She states that this work is a musical test of any hi-fi to correctly reproduce the full range of string and piano tone, from the highest to lowest pitches. If she listened to this SACD, except for the absence of the double bass tonalities, she would find a worthy 21st Century substitute. Pizzicati are accurately rich without being either muddy or over-emphatic. The Steinway D is a champion instrument, sonorously brilliant over its entire compass, without obscuring the strings. In comparison, the 1995 Teldec recording of the Schiff trio sounds murky, along with the customary PCM digital artefacts. Although I haven't heard the other two SACD releases of the Schubert piano trios, this is the first disc where I can hear virtually all the notes played by all the instruments, blended yet individually identifiable.

Site review by Polly Nomial May 7, 2007
Performance:   Sonics:  
The text for this review has been moved to the new site. You can read it here:

Works: 2  

Franz Schubert - Piano Trio No. 1 in B flat major, D. 898
Franz Schubert - Piano Trio No. 2 in E flat major, D. 929