Woldemar Bargiel Piano Trios

Review by: Jed Distler


Artistic Quality: 9

Sound Quality: 9

Woldemar Bargiel (1828-1897) was the younger half-brother of Clara Schumann. His creative endeavors were encouraged by his half-sister and composer husband Robert, and he later enjoyed a close association with Brahms. So it’s not surprising that his Op. 6 and Op. 20 Piano Trios are, well, Schumannesque and Brahmsian! Even Beethovenian at times; the Op. 6 Scherzo’s dotted motive owes big debts to the Scherzo of Beethoven’s Ninth symphony. The same trio’s concluding Allegro con fuoco’s driving passagework might be described as Mendelssohn with angst. Seriously, however, the entire work’s power and inherent passion warrants attention.

These qualities permeate the more melodically interesting Op. 20 Trio. The opening Allegro moderato’s surging tunes somewhat presage Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben. If the Andante goes on slightly too long for what it needs to say, the Scherzo abounds in angular gestures and cross-rhythmic interplay. The Finale begins with a beautiful slow introduction that assiduously leads into an Allegro that, again, may wander a bit, yet features its fair share of surprising modulations.

Excellent though the Parnassus Trio’s complete Bargiel Trio cycle for MDG remains, Hyperion’s Leonore Trio raises the bar regarding forceful accents, emotional urgency, and dynamic contrast, especially in their faster, gruffer Scherzo movements. Peter Avis’ informative booklet notes and Hyperion’s superb engineering further tilt this release’s recommendable scales.

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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: This one; Parnassus Trio (MDG)

    Piano Trio No. 1 in F major Op. 6; Piano Trio No. 2 in E-flat major Op. 20

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