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THE GOULD PIANO TRIO- Robert Fuchs: Piano Trios No.1 & 2 CD (NEW SEALED 2005)
Original release NEW & SEALED CD.....2005
Robert Fuchs was a major (although currently undervalued) composer of the 19th Century and a contemporary of Brahms who was a major influence on many other composers, including Mahler, Sibelius, Wolf and Zemlinsky.
|1. Fuchs, Robert: Trio No 1 in C major (i) Allegro moderato|
|2. Fuchs, Robert: Trio No 1 in C major (ii) Adagio con molto espressione|
|3. Fuchs, Robert: Trio No 1 in C major (iii) Scherzo: Allegro - Presto|
|4. Fuchs, Robert: Trio No 1 in C major (iv) Finale: Allegro risoluto|
|5. Fuchs, Robert: Trio No 2 in B flat major (i) Allegro molto moderato ma energico|
|6. Fuchs, Robert: Trio No 2 in B flat major (ii) Allegro scherzando|
|7. Fuchs, Robert: Trio No 2 in B flat major (iii) Andante sostenuto|
|8. Fuchs, Robert: Trio No 2 in B flat major (iv) Finale. Allegro giocoso|
Robert Fuchs was one of those rather rare figures in music history, namely a contemporary of Brahms whose music earned the praise of that most demanding of critics; indeed, Brahms was instrumental in the publication of Fuchs' first two symphonies by his own publisher, Simrock and in Fuchs' initial appointment at the Vienna Conservatory as a teacher*. "A splendid musician; everything is so fine, so skilful, so charmingly invented that one cannot fail to be pleased," are Brahms' words on the music of his protégé (quoted in the perfunctory liner notes here) and these two piano trios provide manifold examples of what Brahms admired in Fuchs' work.
The trios presented here are reminiscent of the two piano quartets recorded by the Adorjan Trio and pianist Oliver Triendl for Thorofon - The Piano Quartets (Adorjan Trio, Triendl) - not just in the obvious matter of idiom but also in that the first hails from the composer's relative youth while its successor dates from the first decade of the twentieth century; and, as with those quartets, Fuchs' compositional methods and personal voice remain essentially unchanged by the intervening decades aside from, perhaps, a more sophisticated approach to harmony and a greater economy of expression in the later piece. In his emotional warmth and melodic generosity, Fuchs stood as an exemplar of the German High Romantic tradition throughout his long life and the opening 'Allegro moderato' of the C major trio is typical of his style with its instantly memorable themes, the autumnal colouring of his scoring and the finely argued use of traditional "Classical" forms. There is a melancholy to much of his writing that matches perfectly what I termed the "autumnal" character of his personal voice but he is also capable of animated wit, as attested to by the scherzos in both works as well as by passages in both finales, but particularly in that of the B flat major trio; in passing, the radiant opening bars of the latter trio surely deserve mention in any review of that lovely and sometimes deeply felt work.
The Gould Piano Trio turns in excellent performances, with a collective ear for shaping his gratefully written themes without lingering over them unduly; at times, I feel, this is music that could verge on the sentimental but despite the sweetness of some of Fuchs' ideas there is no sense of that here. Sound quality is as excellent as the performances and the three artists nicely balanced.
From what I know of his oeuvre, chamber music seems to have been Fuchs' strength and happily pretty much all of it is available now on disc. If the idea of traditionally written music that combines post-Schubertian lyricism with occasional folk-like turns of phrase and skilful, sonorous scoring married to harmonic warmth you might well find this disc (or the aforementioned release of his piano quartets) the ideal place to start investigating this most engaging of Viennese composers.
Very warmly recommended.
* His pupils were to include Mahler, Sibelius and Enescu among many others.
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**Complete with all original inlays/booklet**
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