Schumann on Period Instruments

Voces Intimae recreate Schumann with the aid of period instruments.

Composer: Schumann
Repertoire: Piano Trios nos. 1 and 3

Artist: Voces Intimae
Rating: 4/5

Genre: Chamber

Label: Challenge Classics CC72520

The Music: The first and last of Schumann’s three piano trios are paired here, leaving aside the sunnier F major no. 2. The First dates from 1847 and what the composer termed ‘a time of gloomy moods’ – a mild expression, perhaps, for the tragic-toned masterpiece that forms its slow movement. The Third Trio of 1851 finds Schumann returning to the genre for an even more harrowing musical workout.

The Performance: The award-winning trio Voces Intimae features three Italian musicians, Riccardo Cecchetti (fp), Luigi di Filippi (vln) and Sandro Meo (vlc), performing on original instruments. This fortepiano is a Streicher contemporaneous with the first Schumann trio, and it’s the one that makes the biggest difference: its mellow quality creates a lived-in, sepia-toned ambience and blends easily with the gut strings on the violin and cello. There’s a lovely transparency and subtlety to the sound – but that comes primarily from the playing because these performers treat their ‘original instruments’ as tools of expression, not an end in themselves, and work energetic and excellently involving magic with them.

The Verdict: Beautiful, warm-hearted and unified music-making – and if you think period instruments are not your thing, try this to change your mind.

Want More? Hear Voces Intimae play the two Mendelssohn piano trios (Symphonia, SY0 02199).