Schumann: Piano Concerto in A minor, Op 54; Piano Trio No 2 in F major, Op 80

Reviewed on Tue 15 Dec, 2015

In the Second Piano Trio, Alexander Melnikov, Isabelle Faust and Jean-Guihen Queyras display admirable teamwork in a lean yet meaningful account of concisely composed yet copious chamber music that is bountiful in ardour and poetry.

Robert Schumann’s romantic Piano Concerto is here informed by ‘period’ instruments. Alexander Melnikov plays on an 1837 Erard fortepiano, dry-sounding but with quite a bit of power, and its use certainly aids lucidity (complemented by a well-balanced recording), to which the alleged ‘baroque orchestra’ contributes much which is expressive, yielding and full-toned. It’s a finely judged interpretation, as much heart as head, with little to suggest ‘authentic’ didacticism, and the leisurely tempo for the finale is entirely convincing, with time for detail and shape. In the Second Piano Trio, Melnikov (now presiding on an 1847 Streicher), Isabelle Faust and Jean-Guihen Queyras display admirable teamwork in a lean yet meaningful account of concisely composed yet copious chamber music that is bountiful in ardour and poetry. Indeed, it emerges here as the best of conversation that is both intimate and outgoing, the fortepiano perfectly blended with the strings. There is also a DVD included.
–Colin Anderson