Brahms: Piano Trios – No 1 in B major, Op 8; No 2 in C major, Op 87; No 3 in C minor, Op 101

Reviewed on Thu 16 Nov, 2017

In Op 101 these fine musicians sweep in Allegro energico as marked but the intensity of the second subject opens another dimension which extends into yet another, the second movement Presto non assai, strings muted to suggest a ghostly even enigmatic quality.

In 1933, Australian pianist William Murdoch described Op 101 as “powerful music, brusque and harsh at times, angular and bad-tempered but mostly full of masculine vigour”. Nearly 85 years later, Emanuel Ax, Leonidas Kavakos and Yo-Yo Ma express its power and vigour but beg to differ about the rest. They sweep in Allegro energico as marked but the intensity of the second subject opens another dimension which extends into yet another, the second movement Presto non assai, strings muted to suggest a ghostly even enigmatic quality. And how could the slow movement, Andante grazioso, have escaped Murdoch’s attention? Perhaps a trio led by him hadn’t played it as tenderly and evocatively as these musicians who throughout this set offer very high standards in artistry and technical excellence. And since they play the revised version of Op 8, why not add the original from 1854 used by Jeremy Denk, Joshua Bell and Steven Isserlis (also Sony)?
–Nalen Anthoni