Three’s Company

poltera by neda navaee

A decade after its founding, Trio Zimmermann has put the string trio back in the spotlight. How does this all-star ensemble function, and can it save the string trio from obscurity? Andrew Mellor went to meet its members

Ten years ago, violinist Frank Peter Zimmermann realised a long-held dream when his professional string trio gave its inaugural performance. Zimmermann had collaborated with the violist Antoine Tamestit in performances of Mozart’s Sinfonia concertante K364 the year before, and soon suspected he had found the middle voice for the trio he had been longing to form. He then consulted Tamestit on the subject of cellists, and the Frenchman proposed Christian Poltéra, an acquaintance of Zimmermann already, via Heinrich Schiff.

All three are much-lauded soloists. But the trio they formed in 2007 has, they say, moulded their individual sounds and styles more than they could have imagined. For the rest of us, Trio Zimmermann has refocused attention on the string trio via a procession of superlative recordings and concert tours. After laying down Mozart and Beethoven trios for BIS, the group has now cut a disc that combines Schoenberg’s fearsome String Trio with the two by Paul Hindemith. When I meet the ensemble in Hamburg, it ison the eve of a performance of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, which has been in its repertoire for a season.

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