Trios by Schumann, Smit, Mozart and Francaix


THE repertoire of music for trio of clarinet, viola and piano contains some exquisite music but the Kegelstatt trio by Mozart, which created the combination, is probably still the best known piece.

By placing their performance of it third on their debut disc, viola player Roeland Jagers, clarinettist Jean Johnson and pianist Ilona Timchenko acknowledge that it has become part of a much fuller story.

It is also a work in which the clarinet has the lion’s share of the limelight and Johnson, the best known of these musicians to Scottish audiences, brings a beautifully rounded tone to the melody lines.

Schumann’s Fairy Tales, scored for the same forces (although the composer allowed for a violin replacing the clarinet), are thought to have followed the Mozart model but really are more of a continuation of works of the same title for piano and viola of two years earlier and, as they show the composer in his sunniest mood, make for a lively opener here.

The closing five movement work is from 20th-century composer Jean Francaix, full of tricky rhythms and a real showcase for the virtuosity of the players.

The real lost gem, programmed between the Schumann and the Mozart, is from Leo Smit, a Dutch Jew murdered by the Nazis, whose 1938 piece is full of edgy expressiveness and the influence of Stravinsky and Les Six in Paris, where he had lived as a young man.

Keith Bruce