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Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)
Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, op. 49 (1839) [27:23]
Piano Trio No. 2 in C minor, op. 66 (1845) [28:05]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Chorale Prelude Nun komm’, der Heiden Heiland BWV659 (transcr. violin and piano) [3:57]
Chorale Prelude Ich ruf zur dir, Herr Jesu Christ BWV639 (transcr. cello and piano) [3:08]
Trio Dali (Amandine Savary (piano); Jack Lieback (violin); Christian-Pierre La Marca (cello))
rec. 2015, L’Heure Bleue, La Chaux-De-Fonds, Switzerland

Less than a month ago, I reviewed a new recording of these two trios by the Sitkovetsky Trio, which on first hearing seemed too intense and Romantic. On further listening, it really grabbed me, and I ended up awarding it a Recording of the Month accolade, and equal status with the much-admired Florestan Trio recording. I also noted the impending release of the Trio Dali recording, and here it is.

These performances are very much in the Romantic school adopted by the Sitkovetsky Trio, and now that my expectations of these works has changed, the Dali performances are not the “shock” to the system that they would have been a few months ago. Unfortunately for the Dalis, the other consequence of hearing them after the Sitkovetskys is that they are not as good. Mind you, I would have been very surprised had they been. Part of what made the Sitkovetskys recording so outstanding were the small emphases and spotlights that they found to make the music dazzle. The Dalis do not show that level of subtlety; theirs is more straightforward, a little too much so. Nowhere is the different in quality better illustrated than the first movement of the Second Trio, where the Sitkovetskys give us a Mendelssohn with real depth and drama, while the Dalis skate across the surface, showing only the prettiness.

The two Bach transcriptions would have been very interesting had they been by Mendelssohn, given the significant connection between the two. That they have been done by an unnamed hand – I assume members of the trio – reduces their musicological importance. They do add a little to the playing time – my only grumble about the Sitkovetsky recording – but something more substantial, perhaps from an unsung contemporary of Mendelssohn would have been better, and made this disc more attractive.

This is the third recording by Trio Dali, the first two – Ravel and Schubert – being on the Fuga Libera label. Founded in 2006, they have won a number of competition prizes and toured widely. The young British violinist Jack Liebeck is the only change to the original group. In my Sitkovetsky review, I remarked on the rather boxy sound of the Florestan release (from CD). The Dali is likewise from a CD, but much more open and clean. It is not as good, however, as the demonstration quality of the BIS recording for the Sitkovetskys which is among the best I have ever heard. The notes, in French, German and English, are very good, spending time on both the origins of the pieces, and also the music itself.

These are performances with undoubted qualities, but lacking a little in subtlety, and if you only want to add one set of the Mendelssohn trios to your collection, it must be the Sitkovetskys.

David Barker



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