Surely the best music here is by Clara Schumann, the Andante slow movement of her G minor Trio suggesting Brahmsian nostalgia touched by Robert’s brand of poetry. Note how, after the solo piano’s entry, the violin soars to the cello’s pizzicato accompaniment, while the finale is somewhat closer to Smetana or Dvořák. The Monte Piano Trio offer a sympathetic account of this lovely work, though pressed to select a first choice I’d opt for the Tudor version with Joseph Silverstein (violin), Veronica Jochum (piano) and Colin Carr (cello), principally for the sake of its added lyricism.
Amy Beach’s Trio has been well served by the Ambache chamber ensemble (Chandos), who bring more breadth to the Lento espressivo slow movement than do the Montes, though both ensembles capture the music’s late-Romantic glow.
The centrepiece of this ‘Tryptich’ collection (three women, three centuries, three biographical periods and three players) was written especially for this particular ensemble. English-born Natalie Klouda composed a piece for the 2012 Olympics and her Fantasy Triptych of two years later takes the piano – which was the chosen instrument of Robert and Clara Schumann as well as Brahms – and places it in a central role for a score that toys with various effects and sonorities, each movement dedicated to one of the celebrated triumvirate, Clara’s ‘Explorations’, Johannes’s ‘Reflections’ and Robert’s rather Bartókian sounding ‘Vexations’. Though it plays for less than 13 minutes, Klouda’s piece makes its points with clarity and focused imagination, while the programme overall is well planned and effective, and a viable prompt for future similar ventures. Given a choice, though, I wouldn’t always want gender to dictate the composers represented – I would have hoped that by now we’re way beyond that kind of special pleading.