Saturday 16 January 2016

Volume 3 of The Lendvai String Trio’s complete cycle of String Trios by Julius Röntgen for Champs Hill Records brings immensely rewarding performances that will bring delight to listeners

The composer, Julius Röntgen (1855-1932)  was born in Leipzig, Germany to a family of musicians. His Dutch born father was first violinist in the Gewandhaus orchestra and his mother was a pianist. He studied composition in Leipzig with Franz Lachner (1803-1890) and piano with Louis Plaidy (1810-1874) and Carl Reinecke (1824-1910). He returned to his native Holland to become a piano teacher and help to found the Amsterdamsch Conservatorium as well as being active as a recitalist and conductor.

Röntgen’s wrote over 600 compositions including symphonies, concertos, chamber music in various settings, songs, works for choir and operas.

It is Röntgen’s sixteen works for String Trio that the Lendvai String Trio (Dutch violinist Nadia Wijzenbeek, Swedish violist Ylvali Zilliacus and British cellist Marie Macleod) are recording for Champs Hill Records . Their third volume in this series, that features String Trios, No’s 9 to 12, has just been released. 

The String Trios date from between 1915 and 1930 and are, therefore, mature works. The Trio No. 9 in A flat major was written in the spring of 1923 and opens with a light and good natured Un poco animato that is developed most beautifully by the Lendvai String Trio. They bring a real sense of joy to this beguiling music with a finely blended texture of instrumental sounds, adding a brief moment of intensity before the coda is reached.

In the Moderato con sentimento the violin brings a flowing melody over pizzicato viola and cello before the instrumentalists weave the melody together. There is a livelier, more incisive central Intermezzo before the music winds its way to its gently wistful conclusion.

This trio bring a fine swirl of string sound to the more turbulent Allegro energico adding much to the dynamic contrasts in wonderfully rich playing, finding all the little changes in rhythm.

Röntgen’s Trio No. 10 in F minor was written in the summer of 1923 whilst the composer was staying at his favourite holiday destination of Fuglsang in Denmark. A sudden string motif is sounded and reflected across the trio as the Allegro molto opens. The idea is developed through some fine flowing passages which are still interrupted by more incisive, dynamic phrases. The music rises through some wonderfully distinctive passages, played with warmth and richness with these players bringing such fine variety of texture and sonorities. There are lovely little pizzicato details as well as some finely played faster sections that lead to the coda.

With the Andante, a sonorous unison opening statement is gently developed through passages of shimmering string luminosity before a thoughtful passage with a rising motif arrives. Later there is a lovely passage where the violin rises passionately over the viola and cello before a gentle coda.

The viola brings a wistful opening statement in the Allegretto affettuoso, soon joined by the other players. Despite its outwardly sunny disposition there is a more intense edge revealed by the Lendvai String Trio. They lift the music with a fine, light rhythmic touch before speeding towards the coda which arrives full of light-hearted joy.

Trio No. 11 in G minor was written within the same ten day period at the beginning of 1925 that also saw the composition of Trio No. 12 in A major. The Lendvai String Trio brings an attractive flow to the opening of the Moderato before pointing up the dynamic contrasts. These players have a fine way of bringing an unstoppable flow of invention to this music as they move through passages of deeper, more intense, richer sonorities, finding every little dynamic, rhythmic and textural detail. There are passages with a gentler dancing sonority before the lovely coda.

The lithe, rhythmic Vivace e giocoso fairly sparkles with good humour, with its staccato phrases. This Trio bring such fine, intuitive accuracy and a lovely crispness to their playing before a bright and breezy coda.

The Andante con moto achieves a fine contrast with its broad, flowing, richly toned sonority, bringing a great sense of freedom and spontaneity as these players move through Röntgen’s ever changing, whimsical ideas, full of endless invention to the decisive coda.

The Allegro assai of the Trio No. 12 in A major opens with a decisive statement before finding a forward flow with these players weaving a lovely theme. Again Röntgen brings rather whimsical ideas, to which this Trio responds brilliantly before pizzicato strings bring about the coda.

A gentle little theme opens the Pastorale. Andante tranquillo with the Lendvai String Trio bringing lovely textures and a real lift to this short movement – quite lovely. They bring a fine forward flow to the Menuetto affettuoso with a fine blending of textures, rising to moments of joyousness before finding the way to a gentle coda on a simple chord.

The Allegro non troppo leaps up, full of energy and fast moving phrases, with this Trio bringing brilliantly intense and accurate playing. There is a fine overlay of musical strands as the music develops through some vibrant passages that positively glow before arriving at a joyous coda. 

These are immensely rewarding works and performances that will bring delight to listeners. Such are the attractions that I intend to seek out previous releases in this fine series. The Lendvai String Trio brings much understanding to this unjustly neglected music. They receive an excellent, spacious recording from the Music Room, Champs Hill, West Sussex, UK and there are excellent booklet notes. 

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