Saint-Saëns Piano Trios Nos 1 & 2
Well, the Florestan Trio have done it again – if this disc doesn’t at least win a Gramophone Award nomination, I’ll eat my hat. Indeed, such is the cumulative emotional impact of these performances that, I don’t mind admitting, I wept during the wonderful fortissimo climax of the E minor trio’s first movement – that even before the astonishing intensity of the final, precipitous Allegro.
I say cumulative because most of the time the Florestan prefer stealth and suggestion; they don’t wear their hearts on their sleeves – unlike the equally brilliant but more high-octane accounts by Trio Wanderer (Harmonia Mundi, 10/05). That’s not to say that the Florestan lack thrills or the Wanderer refinement. With this new recording all is, like Saint-Saëns’s art, a filigree lightness and clarity that somehow twists itself into an ever-deepening pattern of turmoil.
Listen to the underlying wistfulness in the F major Trio: how the élan of the first movement’s final chords provides a springboard into a cheerful bucolic landscape that is nevertheless crossed with clouds – this brought about by a web of delicate rhythmic and tonal shading in the string-playing stretched over Susan Tomes’s dancing, pellucid framework.
Or the maturity and self-confidence in the E minor: nothing is forced, everything flows – from the stormy first movement through the lighter central movements (and here the languid descending phrases of the Andante con moto are beautifully sculpted by both Marwood and Lester) to the complex yet never turgid imitative writing of the last. Recorded sound and accompanying notes are, of course, impeccable. No argument: just buy it.