Romantic Trios is the title of the disc, which focuses on
central German repertoire, and is played by the Craven-Hauser-Misumi
ensemble. Their Brahms Trio is fluent and sensitively shaped. Tempi are
sensible, and the execution highly musical all-round. There’s a certain
gemütlich quality here, a relaxed Viennese warmth that sees integration and
conciliation as essential features of the music. It means that the playing
is watchful, quite reserved in places, emollient and consonant. If your
yardstick in this work is the famous old recording by an eminent predecessor
of Craven’s, namely Reginald Kell, then you may find the newcomer’s
performance too lacking in engagement, too recessive in the cello
statements, and missing sheer variety of clarinet articulation and tone.
That said, the Kell-Frank Miller-Horszowski 1950 recording was very dryly
taped, and allowed Miller’s cello in particular an invasive, assertive role
that Stjepan Hauser never seeks to replicate. One senses that the newcomers
are more in the line of Karl Leister, Georg Donderer and Christoph
Eschenbach, whose DG standby is rather more expressively and timbrally in
their line. Craven’s smooth legato is more in the Leister tradition, I feel,
than in Kell’s highly personalised, ever-varied approach to colour and tone.
That said, the Dinmore trio are not quite as coy (good!) as Leister and his
colleagues in the Andantino. That said, they do match the Viennese
for containment of contrast in the finale. On its own terms, then, this is a
warm, lyrical, attractively self-effacing account.
The Beethoven Trio is straight, solid, and once again very musical.
Again, it’s not especially effusive or expressive, though I did very much
like the ‘music box’ sonorities that Yoko Misumi evokes at the end of the
opening Allegro. My only small reservation here is the rather cool
approach to the cello’s opening phrases in the central movement. When Frank
Miller played it, again with Kell and Horszowski, he made it sound like the
most impassioned Aria imaginable. Even further back clarinettist Luigi
Amodio recorded it on 78s with cellist H. Schroder and pianist Siegfried
Schultze; their performance is more clement and legato, showing another,
perhaps more popular approach. Hauser, though a fine player — he’s now very
popular as part of a sexy two man cello ensemble — is rather too withdrawn,
for my own tastes, and the ensuing duet, for cello and clarinet, is
therefore less engaging than it might be.
The disc ends with Bruch’s Eight Pieces. They can be played as a set,
as here, or cherry-picked as they are in concert performance, quite rightly.
Fortunately the set has been increasingly popular on disc and this
performance adds to the attractive choices on offer. Craven’s instinct for
lyricism and tonal breadth is given full rein here. I was very much taken by
his phrasing of the Rumanische melodie which Craven vests with
powerful melancholy. It ends a most persuasively played and recorded