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Brahms: The Piano Trios by Oliver Schnyder Trio
24 SEP 2014
Reviewed by Kate Rockstrom
When I listen to Brahms’s Piano Trio No. 1 in B Major, the thought always crosses my mind that it was so close to being destroyed. Brahms destroyed all his early works, including the ones that everyone else praised. And then he continued this habit if something didn’t meet his strict ideas of perfection. He laboured over every note to create ‘pure music’, unlike other composers of the time such as Liszt, who liked to write music with a story attached.
This ‘Piano Trio No. 1’, however, does not sound laboured in its performance by the Oliver Schnyder Trio. By some miracle, this is the only work to survive in two versions, and luckily for us we have both on this recording: the original composition from Brahms’s twentieth year of 1854 and a revised one from 1891. Both are exquisite in their own way, the first being fresh from a composer at the beginning of his stellar career, and the second with a few tweaks here and there and the value of hindsight. By contrast, the other two piano trios are from later in his life, with ‘Piano Trio No. 3 in C Minor’ from his fifty-third year. Although this Trio feels heavier compared to the lightness found in Trio No. 1, as if life has weighed him down, it’s rich in detail and you can tell that there is not a note out of place. Premiered by Brahms himself after it was completed while he was on holidays, this is a work that caught me and kept me enthralled.
The Oliver Schnyder Trio really do a marvellous job on these works, bringing every aspect we love about Brahms to the fore. Precise rhythms, and flowing and rich dynamics – this is such delightful recording. Do not let it disappear to history like Brahms consigned so many of his works.