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Franz Alexander PÖSSINGER (1767-1827)
Music for String Trio
Trio concertante Op.36/2 in D major [17.23]
Trio concertante Op.36/1 in E flat major [18.26]
Serenata in Trio concertante Op.10 [24.39]
Kontraste Köln
rec. Mandelsloh, Evangelische Kirche, December 2004
CAPRICCIO 67 162 [60.52]

Pössinger was born in Vienna in 1767. If he is known at all it’s probably in connection with Beethoven, who commissioned the slightly older Pössinger to transcribe Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto for piano and string quintet in 1807.  By this time Pössinger was forty and a long time member of the city’s court orchestra. He’d earlier studied composition with Johann Georg Albrechtsberger and managed to combine long-serving orchestral duties as a violinist with original works as a composer. Nevertheless posterity will remember him most for his Beethovenian transcription and also for his arrangements of well-known works; he apparently transcribed Rossini operas in their entirety for flute and string trio.
 
This might seem unrewarding hack work but the time was right for domestic music-making and Pössinger had a leaning toward chamber forces. The three works here reinforce the point – string trios of modest ambition but elegantly crafted and in supple performances, albeit with some intrusive sniffs along the way.
 
The D major Trio concertante – both Op.36 are cast in three movements – is an amiable and attractive work without a huge sense of individuality. Despite his association with Beethoven the D major sounds more Mozartian, with a touch of gallantry about it. There’s a Hausmusik feel all round, not least in the disarming elegance of the slow movement and in the avuncular Rondo all’Ecossaises. Its E flat major companion shares Pössinger’s inclination for a rather over-long first movement though the Larghetto here is rather more penetrating and effective than is the case with the D major. The finale sports some good contrastive material and a convincing slower section.
 
The  Serenata in Trio concertante is a bigger, and earlier, work written in four movements. Here one feels rather more directly the influence of Beethoven. The turn of phrase is decidedly sterner than the altogether more gentlemanly Op.36 Trios and the aesthetic is actually more bracingly up-to-date as well. There’s a vigorous minuet and an oddly titled Romanze Andante, which turns out to be rather more of the former than the latter.
 
Throughout the playing is neat and tidy – no big soloistic personalities here to overbalance things – and the recording similarly. Sylvie Kraus is the violinist, Christian Gosses the violist and Werner Matzke the cellist. The notes are rather skimpy and the works aren’t dated, if indeed their dates can be confirmed. Biedermeier chamber music, then, and of gentle persuasion.
 
Jonathan Woolf
 

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