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Hagai Shaham in Interview
This is the first recording you have made together as a trio. Why did you choose the Mendelssohn Trios to start off with? This First Trio was the first piece we played together. It's still very fresh music that we feel we can offer something interesting with. And we thought that the two works would be a good 'visiting card' for us as a trio, not least because we've done two tours with them already.
How do the two trios compare and contrast? The First is more memorably melodic, especially in the first movement. The Second is more serious. Both have very energetic, fast scherzos, but the First's is livelier, in a major key and altogether happier. In the Second Trio, meanwhile, you have that memorable moment of the chorale. It's almost a religious moment and very symphonic - I can hear the whole orchestra there, or perhaps a church organ!
Mendelssohn himself wrote that the piano part of the Second Trio was 'a bit beastly'. How well does he write for the violin? Mendelssohn's violin writing is very fine in general. It sits much better in the hands than say Schumann's or even Brahms's writing. He had a natural feeling for the instrument. It can be very difficult and very fast, of course, plus it changes from very light to romantic. So, there are plenty of other problems, but the patterns and the melodic line are never awkward.
And by 'fast', you mean really fast. So much so that the correct metronome markings in the scherzo are rarely
followed ... Yes, if you look at the score, Mendelssohn's metronome markings are very extreme. There's one in
the First Trio that is almost impossible. We tried, and got pretty close ... but I don't think one should reallyy listen to it
with a metronome! We don't, for a start, actually know how accurate Mendelssohn's metronome was, plus some
composers got very over-excited in terms of metronome markings. And then you have to take into account the acoustics: if it's a wet acoustic with lots
of reverb, you can't always hear all the notes if you play at Mendelssohn's tempos. The important thing is getting
Interview by Jeremy Pound
"The debut collaboration of these three distinguished soloists is less of an ego-fest than you might imagine. The reciprocacy in their playing allows you to listen to it as chamber music for its own sake rather than the musical curiosity these all-star combinationss can often be - they only show their soloists' mettle when appropriate, and in a way that makes this disc feel appealingly like you are having your cake and eating it (there is an engaging amount of this in the D minor Trio in particular, which is never over-egged, despite the first movement being a definite self-indulgence risk). Their ensemble in the hymn-like opening theme in the first movement of the C minor Trio is like one voice but rolls into three distinct opinions as the piece progresses, making it infectiously joyful in all its innate Mozartian intelligence and humour."
Caroline Gill - Gramophone June 2012
Copyright © 2012 Raphael Wallfisch