The historical-performance movement has extended its reach into much of the 19th century, but this is the world-premiere recording of Robert Schumann's trios on historical instruments. Actually only the piano dates from Schumann's lifetime, but it's especially the violin and cello that differ markedly from their contemporary counterparts with their gut strings. The result is a pair of Schumann chamber music performances of a quieter cast than the common run, yet also moody and full of strong affect and characterization.
Stefano Bigoni studied piano with Gioiella Giannoni and Vincenzo Audino and achieved his diploma at the Conservatorio "G. Puccini" in La Spezia with full marks. He completed his musical education graduating in composition and instrumentation for bands at the Conservatorio "A. Casella" in L'Aquila with Maestro Piero Luigi Zangelmi.
In the age of Argerich, who brings tightrope-walker tension to chamber music, I doubt that anyone plays the Brahms piano trios with the kind of mellow lushness heard here. Katchen's conception of Brahms was large-scaled but smooth, warm without much psychological struggle. Suk was a honey-toned violinist, and although Starker was the modernist among the three, what's notable here is how perfectly in unison he is with Suk (and blissfully in tune). Decca puts the piano in the middle and the string players close up in their own channels left and right. The result is wide-screen and artificial, of course, since it makes the cello sound as loud as the piano. but the sonic effect is quite luscious.
I've saved my remarks about te interpretations for last. The Brahms trios have attracted great collaborations, and I wouldn't place this one above, say, Istomin-Stern-Rose although it runs ahead of the Beaux Art Trio, for sheer beauty of tone if nothing else. The shortcoming here is a tendency toward cautiousness; these are middle-of-the-road readings that don't capture Brahms' deepest passions. He is placed in the sun too often. But the first two trios aren't sturm and drang works. If you want large-scale performances caught in gorgeous sound, here you go.
–Amazon.com [4 stars] reviewer
The Japanese company, BMG Japan, sorted the original RCA RED SEAL CDs according to the composers and the year when the music pieces were created. BEST100 series are the best representative CDs, which were carefully chosen from those music pieces by acting and recording, and they were released again with the mark of RCA BEST100. These CDs are the most impressive records in the classical field at RCA’s best. Theoretically, we could find the single originals of those CDs, but BMG Japan reorganised excellently for everyone. During BMG Japan period, it was released for the first time in 1999 and for the second time in 2008 after SONY took over BMG. BEST100 series belong to the latter.
This a gorgeous version of this difficult and, in my opinion, normally elusive piece. Shemer makes the harpsichord sing, dance, laugh, cry and meditate. Having his instrument tuned to A=392 and recorded in a church certainly helps the contemplative aspect of this work, and the sound is rich and never metallic, as with many versions. If ever there was a case for throwing piano versions into the bin of history, Shemer is your best advocate.