The 1970s were heady years indeed for the Haydn collector, with complete recorded cycles of the symphonies, quartets and keyboard works and the first-ever recordings of many of the operas. Attracting less immediate attention than these boxed sets were the activities of the Beaux Arts Trio who, proceeding by stealth with one disc at a time, recorded Haydn's complete piano trios between 1970 and 1978.
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.