ESSENTIAL RECORDINGS
NIELS WILHELM GADE - Complete Piano Trios


NIELS WILHELM GADE - Complete Piano Trios - Trio Parnassus - 760623166520 - Released: March 2011 - MDG 3031665

1- Trio in F major, Op. 42
2- First Movement of a Piano Trio in B flat major (1839)
3- Novelettes Op. 29
4- Discarded Finale to the Novelettes
5- Scherzo for Piano Quartet (1836)

As in their excellent previous recording of the Piano Trio works of Benjamin Godard, the Trio Parnassus have once again peered beyond the outer layer of this unjustly neglected music, and instead of perceiving only its face value, have unearthed its deeper substance and obviously elusive beauty.

Born in Denmark, Niels Wilhelm Gade (1817-1890) was a prolific composer whose works include eight symphonies, was organist for most of his life, conductor of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, friend to Schumann and Mendelssohn, teacher to Grieg and Nielsen, but yet has always been confined to the darker backstage corners when it comes to performance or recordings of his music. And this music, despite having been written within the strict guidelines and theoretical rules of the 19th century, is certainly less pedantic and formulaic than Mendelssohn for example. Its melodic invention distances it from the conventional.

And that is precisely what the Trio Parnassus, Yamei Yu (violin), Michael Gross (cello), Chia Chou (piano) and Thomas Selditz (viola in the quartet) reveal in this traversal of his chamber output for Piano Trio. In its emotional impetus, this music is a closer relative to Beethoven for example, than to Mendelssohn or Dvorak who were Gade's contemporaries. Gade's firm grasp of development and momentum, prevent his music from falling into the tedium of repetition like some other composers of his generation. And the excellent musicianship of this ensemble enables them to impose their own emotive perspective on this characterful music.

MDG have once again produced a must-have recording for chamber music fans, especially those in search of something less familiar and worth adding to their collection. Had this music been performed and aired on radio stations as often as the music of Schubert or Schumann, it would now be considered just as important, and would certainly hold its place in musical history. Don't let its lack of exposure fool you into passing it by.

Jean-Yves Duperron - March 2011