Vienna Piano Trio Live!
Ludwig Van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Piano Trio in B flat major, Op. 11 (1798) [18:40]
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Piano Trio in A minor (1914) [26:24]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-56)
Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, Op. 63 (1847) [30:07]
Vienna Piano Trio (Wolfgang Redik (violin); Matthias Gredler (cello); Stefan Mendl (piano))
rec. 29 August 2010, Ehemaliges Ackerhaus der Abtei Marienmünster, Germany
I’ve always found the German label Musikproduktion Dabringhaus und Grimm a pretty good guarantee of satisfaction. This release, titled Vienna Piano Trio Live! comprising piano trios from Beethoven, Ravel and Schumann, was no exception.
It is very common today for orchestras to release recordings of live concerts; less so for chamber ensembles so congratulations to the Vienna Piano Trio. This recital programme was recorded last year at the Ehemaliges Ackerhaus der Abtei Marienmünster which is a former monastery farmhouse in Germany and a well regarded recording studio.
The Vienna Piano Trio has been around for over twenty years and was founded back in 1988. Violinist Wolfgang Redik plays a 1772 violin by J.B. Guadagnini and Matthias Gredler a 1752 J.B. Guadagnini cello both with modern stringing.
The first work on the disc, the Beethoven Piano Trio was composed in 1798. On its publication a part for clarinet was originally included however Beethoven decided to make an arrangement for violin instead. The opening movement is light-hearted and energetic followed by playing of sensitivity and tenderness in the melancholy-tinged Adagio. The final movement, a theme and variations, is played with high spirits and an abundance of vivacity.
The four movement Ravel Piano Trio dates from 1914 with its première given the next year in Paris. The haunting opening movement Modéré is spine-tingling; so light and expressive. Stormy waters that later develop feel unsettling - almost perilous. The frequently rhythmic and buoyant Pantoum (Assez vif) enters an exciting fantasy world of wonderment. Predominantly quiet and serious in character the Passacaille: Très large establishes a sense of dark foreboding - even suffering. A childlike awe opens the Final: Animé. This playful and warm-hearted music is suffused with happiness and excitement.
Schumann, inspired by the piano trios of Beethoven and Schubert, composed his Piano Trio No. 1 in 1847. He presented his wife Clara with the score as a gift for her birthday. This four movement work was premièred in 1848 at Leipzig and published the same year. It is acknowledged by many writers as the finest of his three piano trios.

Commencing with an extended opening movement the music feels like it’s traversing a wild sea with a sense of danger never far way. The second movement is marked by playing of high energy and determination; bordering on the frenetic. The soft and tender slow movement feels like lying on a comfy bed of down. The bright and fresh Finale has an uplifting feeling - almost jubilation.
This is a wonderful heavyweight recital played with a natural assurance. Although recorded live I wasn’t aware of any audience noise and I’m not sure how they could contain themselves from applauding. I found the sound quality cool, clear and well balanced.
Michael Cookson
A wonderful heavyweight recital played with natural assurance.