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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    




Johannes BRAHMS (1833 - 1897)

Trio Opus 40 for horn, piano and violin
Carl REINECKE (1824 - 1910)

Trio Op.274 for horn, clarinet and piano
Frédéric DUVERNOY (1765 - 1838)

Trio No.1 for horn, clarinet and piano
Jose Zarzo, (horn); Victor Parra, (violin); Radovan Cavallin, (clarinet); Juan Francisco Parra, (piano).
Recorded Las Palmas July 1999 DDD Stereo
CRYSTAL RECORDS CD771 [67:06]
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An entirely Spanish production issued by the US company Crystal. The soloists are all members of the Ensemble Isola which is drawn largely from the Gran Canaria Orchestra familiar to us from their appearances on Naxos. The recording was sponsored by the horn playerís brother and recorded in Las Palmas. The only part of the CD not clearly Spanish is the English notes, for which Crystal have unfortunately omitted credit. They are useful and well written by the anonymous contributor but printed in the same weird order I commented on previously in my review of the American Brass Quintet (see elsewhere Crystal CD214).

Brahmsí Trio Op.40 is a splendid work with a surging first movement, an exciting scherzo and a very beautiful adagio mesto slow movement. The finale rather stopped me in my tracks. I have not listened to this Trio for a very long time, so why was this allegro con brio, typically Brahmsian, lively dramatic and utterly memorable, so very familiar? My musical friends all reacted the same way but were unable to cast light on the mystery. Brahms did not use the tune elsewhere so far as I can discover. Perhaps someone has been using it as a signature tune on Radio or TV. The three soloists are fine musicians and they play Brahmsí piece with considerable power and, necessarily for the treacherous horn part, accuracy. I enjoyed this very much and was again reminded that Brahms often cries out for larger forces than those for which he is composing.

The recording is well balanced, all the lines are clearly delineated, and the horn, a difficult instrument to record because it so often seems to overflow its acoustic space, is allowed room to breathe. Towards the end of Carl Reineckeís worthy but dull Trio I did notice a couple of editing glitches on the master tape (track [7] 4:59 and 5:04 to be exact) which came in the middle of a track where I also noted a decline in recording quality. Since my CD system did not display disc errors I assume the master to be at fault. This problem seems to clear up in the final piece, the Duvernoy.

I dismissed Reinecke as worthy but dull. It has the Brahmsian characteristics of seriousness and rich harmonies but little of the masterís spark of inspiration. The most interesting thing about this trio is that Reinecke should have chosen to compose a clearly serious piece for the unusual combination of horn, clarinet and piano. The scherzo makes impressive use of the bottom register of the clarinet. The finale starts off in lively fashion but soon returns to what the sleeve-note calls euphemistically "a more customary Reinecke style". Quite so. Duvernoy was a famous horn player in his day and his short trio has a slightly faceless adagio succeeded by a dramatic allegretto that, I guess, would not have displeased Mozart. A surprising pleasure.

Dave Billinge


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