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 ’cello 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