Mendelssohn Piano Trios Op.49 & Op.66 and Schumann Five Canons Op.56

HAGAI SHAHAM began to study the violin at the age of six and was the last student of the renowned Ilona Feher. In 1990 Shaham and his duo partner pianist Arnon Erez won First Prize in the Munich International Competition (ARD), the first time in nearly twenty years this prestigious prize had been awarded to a violin-piano duo. Shaham made his London début at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in 1990 and in Wigmore Hall in 1996, since when he has performed in most of Europe’s most prestigious venues.

ARNON EREZ studied with Arie Vardi, and is a graduate of Tel Aviv University. He undertook advanced studies of chamber music with the Guarneri Quartet in the U.S.A., and currently heads the Chamber Music Department at the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music, Tel Aviv University. Erez is highly acclaimed for his sensitivity and virtuosity and is especially noted for his duo partnership with violinist Hagai Shaham. He has performed in numerous major concert halls, including Carnegie Hall, New York; Beethoven Halle, Bonn; the New Auditorium du Louvre in Paris and London’s Wigmore Hall.

RAPHAEL WALLFISCH is one of the most celebrated cellists performing on the international stage and has recorded nearly every major work for his instrument. Britain's leading composers have worked closely with Raphael, many having written works especially for him including Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Kenneth Leighton, James MacMillan, John Metcalf, Paul Patterson, Robert Simpson, Robert Saxton, Roger Smalley, Giles Swayne, John Tavener and Adrian Williams.



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“For their recording debut as a trio, the cellist Raphael Wallfisch joins the long-established duo partnership of violinist Hagai Shaham and pianist Aron Erez in two of Mendelssohn’s most popular chamber pieces. The restrained opening cello theme of the D minor work sets the scene for three distinguished soloists playing together as if for their own pleasure, never for a moment upstaging one another in a movement that can so often become a series of accompanied solos. Throughout the score they bring ample fire and excitement at the appropriate moments, and parts of the finale reach a white-heat intensity in an account that sings of love and passion. The C minor Trio has never enjoyed the same popularity, but these players bring a spontaneity that captures the lyrical fervour of the work’s outer movements, and the Andante espressivo moves with more urgency than we normally hear. String intonation is not without question, but the disc comes close to my benchmark recording from the Florestan Trio (Hyperion), which has the advantage of more numerous subtle nuances. Completing a well-recorded and generously filled disc is a lovely performance of Theodor Kirchner’s seldom-played adaptation of Schumann’s canonic studies, an account that offers much greater fun than the work’s title might suggest.” David Denton, The Strad

"This ensemble turns the two Mendelssohn trios and Schumann's Canons opus 56 into a musical feast. Lyricism and expression are at the core of this performance…. full of passion and emotion. Shaham and Wallfisch give it their all with their warm and expressive playing, and pianist Erez plays his piano with extraordinary clarity. Utterly moving is their interpretation of the second movement of the first trio. This ensemble is a perfect match for Mendelssohn - melodious in the andante's, light and sparkling like champagne in the scherzo's. The trio's sheer pleasure of playing is bouncing off this beautifully recorded CD" Kassieke Zaken

Excellently balanced, first class performances, sensitive and imaginative music-making.

This is a most distinguished example of chamber music making by a relatively recent ensemble, all of whom are well known to record buyers and concert-goers. The core of the partnership is that of Shaham and Erez, who are duo partners. Their flowering into a trio, via the addition of Wallfisch, sets fair to enrich the discography with perceptive, malleable and finely considered performances if this inaugural disc is anything to go by.
The trio avoids undue rubati, ensuring that the spine of the music-making presses forward though never at the expense of breathing phraseology, when required of them. A splendid balance is thus maintained between momentum and consideration. The slow movement is full of restrained poetry, rapt yet chaste, enriched by touching little violin lines. The scherzo is astutely and wristily bowed and the finale is excitingly proclaimed, albeit energised through the most subtle and precise of means – plenty of clarity amidst the strong and heroic chorale, therefore.
The coupling is unusual and in some ways unexpected — the six Clavierstücke in canonischer form Op.56 Schumann wrote in 1845, the year in which Mendelssohn wrote his C minor trio - overlook the disc cover which speaks of only five canons**. These piano works were published in 1855 and arranged by Theodor Kirchner (1823-1903) for trio in the 1880s. Brahms greatly admired Kirchner’s adaptations of his own music, and it’s clear from Kirchner’s Schumann work that he had an ingenious ear. These Canons take on a very definite sound world and sense of characterisation in the trio medium. There’s deftness to them, a sense too of a ‘love duet’ element (in the fourth) and a rather delightfully charged, military but essentially good humoured march theme in the fifth. The last one is truly lovely. They’re played with elegance and deft rhythm.
Given excellently balanced recordings, these first class performances are evidence of sensitive and imaginative music-making.
Jonathan Woolf,

"This is a really fine disc, and I very much hope that these musicians go on to make more recordings of this quality" - Robert Matthew Walker IRR April 2012

"…  with this concert the Trio Shaham Erez Wallfisch made sure that it will no longer be considered a well kept secret ...ease, temperament and a refined sound were captured and displayed by these musicians with technical brilliance, with a great awareness of shape, with absolutely gorgeous precision and in particular through highly sensitive interaction."

In the same way that these qualities had already caused captivating moments in the Fauré, they made Ravel's piano trio the absolute highlight of the concert - especially in the first movement (Modéré) in which Hagai Shaham (violin), Arnon Erez (piano) and Raphael Wallfisch (cello) knew how to enchant with the finest of colours and the very softest of shades, then transferring this kind of music making - with its exemplary rhythmic presence and precision and its admirable structural clarity - into a bravura orchestral apotheosis, a miracle of sound that kept the audience in a tight grip until the very end.

The trio was given a huge ovation which they responded to with an encore of Mendelssohn's scherzo, from the opus 49 trio, played with magical ease.”

Südwest Presse, Hans Herdeg, 31.01.2013

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