Gál: Piano Trio in E major, Op 18; Variations on a popular Viennese tune, Op 9; Shostakovich: Piano Trio No 2 in E minor, Op 67

Reviewed on Mon 27 Aug, 2018

Sarah Beth Briggs is joined by David Juritz and Kenneth Woods, and together they lend most eloquent advocacy to this rewarding repertoire.

Here's yet another welcome addition to the Hans Gál discography from AVIE Records, this time showcasing his substantial Piano Trio in E major dating from 1923. Cast in three movements, this is a gloriously warm-hearted, songful and consummately crafted offering, whose tersely driven scherzo forms a satisfying contrast to the large-scale, absorbingly argued movements that flank it. In its immensely sophisticated harmonic and structural resourcefulness and strong vein of beguiling, Viennese charm, it's a work of conspicuous appeal – as, for that matter is, the miniature set of variations on a popular tune that Gál completed some nine years earlier. Sarah Beth Briggs, who made such a lovely job of this same figure's delightful Piano Concerto (reviewed on 31 May 2016), is joined by David Juritz and Kenneth Woods, and together they lend most eloquent advocacy to this rewarding repertoire. As for the remaining item, Shostakovich's harrowingly intense Second Piano Trio from 1944, these thoughtful, uncommonly articulate performers more than hold their own in a fiercely crowded field. Exemplary production-values courtesy of the composer's grandson, Simon Fox-Gál; Kenneth Woods supplies a most knowledgeable booklet-essay. Well worth investigating!
–Andrew Achenbach