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  Praga Digitals -
  PRD/DSD 250 201
  Schubert: Piano Trios - Guarneri Trio Prague
  Schubert: Piano Trio in B flat major Op. 99 D. 898, Piano Trio in E flat major Op. 100 D. 929

Guarneri Trio Prague
Track listing:
  Classical - Chamber
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Related titles: 3

Reviews: 3
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Review by krisjan March 27, 2010 (4 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Today was a Schubert kind of day. I pulled this SACD off the shelf and gave it a spin. I haven't heard it for a few years and my memory of it was not all that positive. Surprise! I really enjoyed this one. The fact that both of these trios are accomodated on one 78:48 long SACD suggests that either the tempos adopted are quite fast or that repeats are dispensed with (or both). I can say that, for the most part, tempos are just fine (i.e. I hear no undue rushing in any of the movements). Hence, I conclude that repeats normally taken in performance have been dropped. This is fine by me for such familiar works. After all, the purpose of repeats was to ingrain the music to listeners hearing it for the first time by reprising something that came before. Now that these masterworks are so well known, why bother with the repeats unless they are needed to create weight or balance in a movement?

The performances are solid and elegant. The Guarneri Trio avoids hystrionics but at the same time they are never boring. As a result, they are not the most dynamic performances one will hear but this music can take many different viewpoints and still make its grandness felt. There is no question that all three players share the same sensibilities because the ensemble playing is magnificent. This trio has been playing together for 24 years and it shows. While I mentioned earlier that tempos are generally not too fast, the one exception is in the Rondo finale of the E-flate trio where the opening allegro moderato is taken at a fairly swift pace, somewhat lessening the impact of the music. It's not a big thing, really, but they could have squeezed just a bit more juice from the fruit here.

Sonically this is also a very good recording. I listen in stereo with surround synthesized by an AVR so the fact that this SACD doesn't possess native 5.1 multichannel tracks makes no nevermind for me. What I hear is a faithful reproduction of a piano trio recorded in a slightly resonant space (Domovina studio, Prague). The string timbres are true, the piano is properly percussive with plenty of low end heft and the soundstaging creates a realistic picture of a trio in performance. A slight annoyance for me is the audible breathing of the cellist. I have recently complained about another recording from this same studio done several years later (Haydn Quartets Op.33) where I can also hear the breathing/gasps of at least one of the quartet players but which is much more disconcerting than in this trio recording because the quartet sonics are bathed in this huge resonant haze creating simultaneously close-up and far-away sounds pictures. Here, because the piano trio recording does not have that big reverberation, the sonic picture is more credible - hearing the breathing just makes more sense because the soundstage is fully consistent and close-up. Recommended.

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Review by seth May 7, 2006 (3 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Schubert's piano trios are among his best works, with the slow movement of the E flat being one the 10 most sublime pieces of music ever written. Unfortunately these performances are rather average.

The Guarneri Trio is too concerned with showing off how quietly they can play. I find their sound to often be thin as a result. I've heard period instrument performances of the trios that have a more vibrant full blooded tone. And because they are so obsessed with the technical precision of their playing, their music making is devoid of individual character (someone like Bylsma is so much more expressive in the cello part).

The biggest misfire on the disc is the first movement of the B flat. It is played entirely too quickly. The pacing should be more deliberate; some rubato can even be highly effective. But Guarneri just plows through it. Similarly, the E flat's final movement is also played so quick and slickly that the quasi march feel of the allegro section is almost missed, and some of the grandeur throughout the movement is underdone.

The recorded sound is fine, but fails to create the illusion that the musicians are in my listening room (something which many many CDs -- digital and analog recordings -- manage to do). Instead the recording sounds like a reproduction of them performing in a smallish room.

Not recommended, especially if this will be your first recording of the trios.

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Review by madisonears January 23, 2007 (2 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
If I had to describe this disc in one word, it would be: dull. I enjoy many Praga chamber music recordings. I find the performances to be lively and full of the joy of making music, and the technical aspects of the recordings are first class, in some cases of reference quality. This disc, however, never engaged me on any level, with its somewhat lifeless musical and aural characteristics. I listened carefully several times, and casually several more, and I was always left with the feeling that they should not have bothered, and even Schubert not have bothered, to make this music. My reference for these works continues to be the Beaux Arts Trio in a Philips duo (with String Trios), which are certainly older but still superb recordings of far better performances.

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Works: 2  

Franz Schubert - Piano Trio No. 1 in B flat major, D. 898
Franz Schubert - Piano Trio No. 2 in E flat major, D. 929