Schubert’s two Piano Trios are amongst his greatest works, contrasted both within themselves and between each other although written within weeks of each other. The B flat has a superficially contented character at the start, but even here clouds seem to come across the sky at increasingly frequent intervals. The E flat is a more obviously dramatic work throughout, and the curiously ambiguous march of the slow movement is surely some of the most inspired music Schubert ever wrote.
The Odeon Trio go for gold. Unlike either the Beaux Arts (Philips) or the Fontenay (Teldec), they use three CDs to include everything by Brahms that could possibly be called a piano trio, not forgetting the Op. 114 and Op. 40 wind trios, whose wind parts can well be rendered by strings. They decide, too, that the original 1853 version of the B major Trio is for them, rather than the revised version of 1889 which is more generally favoured.
The Borodin Trio's recording of Mendelssohn's two piano trios was first released in 1985 and reissued in 2009, in time for the Mendelssohn bicentennial. The performances may not be as warmly opulent as fans of the group might like. Fans used to their big-vibrato, heart-on-the-sleeve approach to the trios of Schubert and Brahms could miss the Trio's usual ultra-lush ensemble and super-heated sonority.
For anyone interested in Glinka's Trio, choice here is simple. The new Borodin Trio performance is greatly superior to the Pavane version cited above, which is on the stiff side and not blessed with a very distinguished recording (it is coupled with Beethoven's Clarinet Trio). Not only is the sound far better on the new Chandos, but the playing has a sweep and eloquence, also a neat wit, of which the work stands in some need.