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Johannes BRAHMS (1833 – 1897)
Trio in A minor, op. 114
Hugh WOOD (b. 1932)

Clarinet Trio, op.40
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770 – 1827)

Trio in B flat, op.11
Trio Gemelli
Recorded at St. George’s, Bristol, June 1998
THE DIVINE ART 25009 [59:30]

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The Trio Gemelli, made its debut in Madrid in 1994 and comprises John (clarinet) and Adrian (cello) Bradbury (who are identical) twins and Emily Segal (piano). It has given a series of successful concerts both in the UK and in continental Europe.

The Brahms Trio is a late work that shows the composer at his rich romantic best, it is not designed as a showpiece for the clarinet as all three instruments are of equal importance, with the cello often taking the lead. The dreamy slow movement is especially fine. The three young players play with maturity and the work sounds most impressive.

Hugh Wood was born in Wigan in 1932 and has been involved in teaching music for most of his life. His compositions are mainly in the chamber music field and the Trio Gemelli premiered this trio. The work is short, with three brief movements and is uncompromisingly modern in sound. The opening movement concentrates on each musician as a solo instrumentalist, with long solos for each instrument in turn. The second movement is a scherzo march of considerable character. Unusually the finale is a slow movement intended as a tribute to two friends who died in 1997. However the trio comes across as lacking in emotion and does not fit in well with the accompanying works on the CD.

Beethoven wrote his Opus 11 trio in 1798 and it is sometimes played in a contemporary arrangement for violin, cello and piano. Although a relatively early work, it shows Beethoven at his peak. The first movement is an allegro con brio and is of fascinating complexity. It is followed by a slow movement, played here with great feeling. The last movement is a theme and variations, the theme is a jaunty tune from an opera by J. Weighl — it reminds us that Beethoven is unsurpassed at writing variations, even based upon the most trivial of tunes (see for example the Variations for Piano Trio on Ich bin der Schneider Kakadu.

The playing is exemplary and it is recorded in a warm acoustic. The disc is well presented, with good notes.

Arthur Baker

See also reviews by Raymond Walker and Paul Shoemaker

This review has previously been published in the FRMS Bulletin ©

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