Schubert: Piano Trios – No 1 in B flat major, D 898 (Op 99); No 2 in E flat major, D 929 (Op 100)

Reviewed on Wed 26 Oct, 2016

Staier sometimes breaks chords to expressive effect, his string playing colleagues in general staying within a ‘period’ interpretative framework, meaning lightly attenuated and with a sparing use of vibrato.

The traditional view of Schubert’s two piano trios tends towards ebullience (Op 99) as opposed to austerity (Op 100). Fortepianist Andreas Staier and friends forge a gleaming bridge that brings them closer together, the B flat buoyant and flexible, the E flat somewhat more animated than usual. In Op 99's opening movement, note the way the players ease the pace at the close of the exposition (3:17), only to the rush towards the repeat, or the heated onset of the development (7:31). Staier sometimes breaks chords to expressive effect, his string playing colleagues in general staying within a ‘period’ interpretative framework, meaning lightly attenuated and with a sparing use of vibrato. The E flat Trio is dynamically shaded, the first movement crisp and nimble, the Andante con moto breezy but with its mind on higher things, as if sensing trouble ahead. The scherzando third movement is fascinating in that the trio section (4:47) features some percussive stamping that contrasts markedly with a light-textured finale. All repeats are played, and it’s great to have the lovely E flat Notturno as a bonus. Exceptional in every respect.
–Rob Cowan