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Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)
Piano Trio in D minor, op. 120 [21:01]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Notturno in E flat major, D897 [9:27]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Piano Trio No. 1 in B major, op. 8 [37:18]
Trio Isimsiz
Rec. 2019, Wyastone Concert Hall, UK
RUBICON RCD1048 [67:51]

This is Trio Isimsiz’s second release; the first from 2017 also on Rubicon, comprised Beethoven, Brahms (No. 3) and Takemitsu’s Between Tides. It hasn’t been reviewed here, nor have I heard any of it. Surprisingly the booklet notes tell us nothing about the performers, a contrast to the most recent CD I reviewed, where even the copyist got almost as many words as the music. Some Googling was needed to find that the Trio formed in 2009 at the London Guildhall School of Music & Drama, where the three members - Erdem Misirlioglu (piano), Pablo Hernán Benedí (violin) and Michael Petrov (cello) - are currently Fellows.

Their choice of works here is not particularly imaginative, given that the Fauré, with in excess of 50 recordings, is the “unsung” piece here. Surely there was space for a little-known work, even at the expense of the Schubert.

I went to the Brahms first, because I know it best, and also because I felt it would help identify their approach. Most Brahms interpretations tend to fall into either a Classical or Romantic category - I prefer the latter. Trio Isimsiz are certainly Classical in their approach, with restrained emotions and dynamics. Nonetheless, it was a reading that I quite enjoyed, and have no reservations about adding to my collection. There were some interesting treatments, not least the opening bars of the trio section in the Scherzo which are the most hesitant, least flowing I’ve heard. There was a similar approach to the middle slower section in the final Allegro, which provide an effective contrast to the faster sections either side. Did this work? I’m not entirely convinced, but it does make one think.

I felt that the restrained approach of the trio should work very well in the Fauré, and it certainly did. This is one of the best versions I have heard - elegant, atmospheric and very French - and if you love this work, his last, you certainly owe it to yourself to give this a listen.

So to the Schubert, and something that had been hovering in the background as a mild annoyance in the other works came to the fore, and spoilt for me what would otherwise have been an enjoyable listen. Perhaps it was being a consequence of being miked too closely, but but both string instruments sounded quite harsh in the crescendo moments, not at all what I would think appropriate for this lovely music. There had been hints in the Brahms and Fauré, but I tried to ignore them as I know it is something I bang on about too much.

The sound is very upfront, leading to the aforementioned problem with the strings at high levels. The notes are straightforward, concentrating on musical analysis, and as I said at the start, no biographical information at all about the players.

David Barker



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