MENDELSSOHN Piano Trios (Trio Metral)
This disc by the Paris Conservatoire-trained Métral siblings marks their debut on disc. The two Mendelssohn trios are an apt choice for they well match the airiness and fingeriness of the group’s approach. There’s plenty of warmth, too, such as in the arching cello melody (1'47" into track 1) in the first movement of the D minor, while their overall tempo here is judged just so. They also find time to relish the more reflective moments, such as the heart-stopping passage beginning at 5'40", before picking up speed once more.
The Métral’s slow movement, while pitched at a nicely flowing tempo, doesn’t quite rival the finest in building to a mood of rapt intensity, but it is a compliment that I’m comparing them with the likes of the Florestan and Fischer/Müller-Schott/Gilad trios. I did find their Scherzo just a degree too reined-in, especially compared with Fischer and friends, who nail the one in-a bar feel at a daringly fast tempo. The Florestan are less frenetic but so full of detail that this too always holds the attention. In the finale the Métral are alive to the composer’s phrasing, and particularly impressive for the sheer clarity of their phrasing and passagework: sample the interplay between the strings from 1'38" on track 4, or the drive towards the double-bar.
The darker C minor brought with it a few more reservations, though again the Métral’s playing is on a very high level, especially the naturalness with which they relate to one another. From the very opening bars, there’s a lift to their music-making, though I did find their reading of this movement as a whole dwelt too much in the lighter emotional regions – I wanted more torment! Fischer and friends are initially more withdrawn, while the Florestan are darker still, which gives the pianist’s chordal writing (from 1'58", track 5) real impact.
Their Andante espressivo has a considered beauty to it but turn to Fischer and co and there’s an unfettered quality to their playing that is even more moving, thanks to the way they give the music time to speak, combining tenderness and passion to potent effect. The Métral are notably fearless in the Scherzo, which they take at a real lick, a little less seamless than Fischer and friends but demonstrating real élan. In the finale I found their emphasis at the tops of phrases a little overdone but the pianist’s ability to make light of the accompaniment and avoid ever overwhelming his string colleagues is a demonstration of the calibre of this group.