The Strad Issue: January 2011
Musicians: Goeyvaerts Trio
Composer: Schoenberg, Webern, Schnittke

This recording includes a short talk by Schoenberg (in English), originally broadcast along with a performance of his Trio in 1949, concerning attention to detail by performers and listeners – a potential hostage to fortune for the Goeyvaerts Trio if ever there was one. But the players cover themselves in glory, with performances that glitter with the perfection of a cut diamond. The playing is packed full of detail, each note, each phrase, honed and polished.

In Webern’s terse 1927 Trio and his op. posth. Movement from 1925, perhaps the most cruelly exacting of these works, they demonstrate truly forensic care (the cavernous acoustic gives one plenty of time to check). They are good, too, at holding the lines of musical thought which bind this often fragmentary writing together. There are occasional uncertainties of intonation in Schnittke’s Trio, but otherwise their command of this challenging music, both musical and technical, is remarkable.

The booklet, in four languages, seems uncertain about how much linguistic credit to give its readers. There is a transcript, in English only, of Schoenberg’s talk. Lengthy extracts within the notes from Thomas Mann in German and René Leibowitz in French will leave many, like me, wishing they had paid more attention at school.