Magazine article Gramophone

Latest in the BFT's Period-Instrument Schumann Project

Magazine article Gramophone

Latest in the BFT's Period-Instrument Schumann Project

Article excerpt

Schumann Piano Trio No 2, Op 80. Piano Quartet, Op 47 (a). Kinderszenen, Op 15 (b) Benvenue Fortepiano Trio ((b) Eric Zivian pf Monica Huggett vn Tanya Tomkins vc)with Adam LaMotte va Avie (F) AV2272 (71' * DDD)

It was through the Piano Quartet that my love affair with Schumann's chamber music began, when, as a student, I encountered the Alberni Quartet's reading with Thomas Rajna on a CRD LP. Then it was the slow movement that stole my heart, is till find it a good starting point in any new reading of the work. Period instruments are still--perhaps surprisingly--a relative rarity in this repertoire. And it's in the Quartet that the Benvenue Fortepiano Trio is at its most convincing, the addition of viola player Adam LaMotte redressing what can elsewhere be a violin-heavy focus. The Scherzo has plenty of buoyancy and the finale is also high on adrenalin, though no one captures its propulsion quite as brilliantly as Argerich in her various recordings, while there are more characterful interpreters of that voluptuous slow movement cello melody, not least from the excellent Jerusalem Quartet with Alexander Melnikov.

The remainder of the disc is less successful. There are more imaginative accounts of Kinderszenen than Eric Zivian's: desynchronised hands are no substitute for poetry in the opening number and the bass is overbearing in 'Wichtige Begebenheit', while even 'Traumerei' sounds a tad prosaic, in their very different ways, Horowitz, Lupu, Argerich and Freire make a much more compelling case for this music.

The piano trios are now dominated by the Gramophone Award-winning Andsnes/Tetzlaff set. And it's in this piece that the greatest doubts arise. …

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