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  Challenge Classics -
  SACC 72097
  Mendelssohn: Complete Piano Trios - Altenberg Trio Wien
  Mendelssohn: Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor Op. 49, Piano Trio No. 2 in C minor Op. 66

Altenberg Trio Wien
Track listing:
  Classical - Chamber
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Related titles: 1

Reviews: 1

Review by Beagle May 11, 2006 (6 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I have a beautiful memory from my 50th birthday: my wife and I were strolling along the waterfront after a good restaurant meal. It was a perfect August evening and apartment dwellers had their windows open. Suddenly we both lurched to a halt in front of one first-storey window, because the most beautiful music was pouring out of it. We peeped timidly in and waited for a break, and then applauded heartily. Inside was our favourite Canadian cellist, Denis Djokic, and her violinist friend (name forgotten). I KNEW I knew the piece, but couldn’t put a name to it. My know-it-all wife piped up, ‘It’s the Mendelssohn Trio without a piano, isn’t it?’. Bingo…. We are all more familiar with this music than we realise. It is so tuneful that, after one bar, one has to fight the inner urge to sing along.

About the sound: I confess I am a literal audiophile, in the sense that I love to bask in luscious warm sound (and I can’t quite enjoy razor-edgy trebles). Nonetheless I was mindful of those who eschew 'resonance' when I listened to the first minutes of this disc -- and said to myself, ‘Now THAT has got to please everybody!’. There are solid wooden instruments here, clearly placed, and I can’t hear the walls. I reserve a half-star from both performance and sound, in order to leave something for Fry Street Quartet and IsoMike recordings. Although a stereophile, I would be amused to learn ‘where’ the instruments are in surround-sound.

This disc arrived in the same shipment as the Guarneri’s Czech Trios and the Mandelring’s Shostakovich Quartets; the other two discs are excellent stuff, but this is the disc that gets played over and over and over again. I especially like the Altenberg’s piano which, although not a forte-piano, is nonetheless played with a sound which in scale with the music. Quite the trick, considering that it is a great thumping Bösendorfer. That takes restraint, but this isn’t restrained playing; the whole disc exhibits heart-felt exuberance, a real feel-good experience. Mendelssohn is such a great guy; what a pity his sister and he will be dead a mere two years after the second trio.

I’ve known the Altenberg Trio for several years: as a website with lots of good, reliable information about trios – but this is my first experience of their playing. As is sometimes the case, the cover art did not recommend the disc: it’s cartoonish, and one expects happy elves to prance out from behind an alpine fir, singing numbers from The Sound of Music…. I thank whatever gods may be, that the Altenberg's music-making is as excellent as their on-line database, and that you can't judge an sacd by its cover.

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Works: 2  

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy - Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, MWV Q 29 Op. 49
Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy - Piano Trio No. 2 in C minor, MWV Q 33 Op. 66