The Strad Issue: January 2010
Musicians: Trio Jean Paul
Composer: Mendelssohn

These excellent West German Radio recordings, by an established German group, come very close to the truth of Mendelssohn’s trios as I understand it. Unlike the performances by the Eggner Trio from Austria, which I reviewed last month, they always stay this side of excess.

The Trio Jean Paul boasts a superlative cellist, MartinuLöhr, who thrills me every time he puts the bow to the string with his contained, focused and always beautiful playing. The interpretations contain only one eccentricity – the violin’s swooping counter-melody towards the end of the Molto allegro of op.49 is not as triumphal as usual. Both slow movements are simply but touchingly done.

Some listeners may be bothered by violinist Ulf Schneider’s habit of introducing little bulges into some of his notes. And in the concert hall I have sometimes winced at the hint of asperity in his tone – so it is in a few passages here; but he plays very beautifully at times, for instance in the chorale ‘Vor deinen Thron’ in the finale of op.66.

Among modern rivals, I prefer the Guarneri Trio (Praga), although Istomin, Stern and Rose (Sony) and the historic Oistrakh Trio (Brilliant) should be heard.