52,943 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  


AmazonUK   AmazonUS

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Piano Trio No. 3 in C minor, Op. 101 (1886) [21.37]
Piano Trio No. 4 in A, Op. posth.* (1856?) [34.12]
Trio Fontenay
rec. Teldec Studio, Berlin, November 1987 and *May 1989
WARNER APEX 2564 61690 2 [55.49]

These trios share the label "Brahms", along with a recognizable common harmonic language. However, their aesthetic differences are pronounced. The C minor gives us Brahms in his volatile, post-Beethoven firebrand mode. The first movement's opening figures are taut and muscular, an impression retained even as the second theme sings ardently. In contrast, the second movement is shadowy gossamer, reinforced by passages of spooky, bubbling pizzicato arpeggios. The broad, arching Andante grazioso begins rather squarely; only the arrival of the pulsing string triplets at 2:38 brings the needed forward impulse. The taut muscularity returns in the Finale, infused with what passes in Brahms for youthful exuberance.

Though probably composed some thirty years earlier, the A major trio sounds, paradoxically, like the work of a composer tempered by age. The opening movement, lyrical rather than dramatic in conception, is mellow and autumnal. The Vivace ("lively") designation for the second movement belies its minor-key turbulence, with violin and ícello spinning long phrases over the volatile piano figurations. A hushed, reverent chorale opens the Lento, which gradually builds into anguished outpourings. The lively, buoyant, occasionally insistent finale provides an affirmative conclusion.

The members of the Trio Fontenay, like other first-class chamber players, know how to meld into a unified, responsive ensemble without losing their distinctive timbres - the piano tone gleaming, well-supported piano tone, that of the violin shimmering and expansive, over a warm, vibrant 'cello. Save in that odd tick-tock opening of the C minor's Andante, they are fully attuned to both the composer's mercurial outbursts and his serene, fluid lyricism. The sound is studio-bound but clear.

Stephen Francis Vasta

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Return to Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.