The cover of this CD displays a bizarre composition of players surrounding a supine Anne-Sophie Mutter who appears to be wearing a mermaid outfit designed by Alexander McQueen. I imagine most of the interest will stem from the participation of erstwhile wunderkind Daniil Trifonov. The others, Maximilian Hornung (cello), Roman Patkoló (double bass) and Hwayoon Lee (viola) are young musicians being developed by Mutter’s Young Talent foundation.
It’s certainly a high octane reading, with abundant drama, for what must rank as Schubert’s sunniest work. It’s a universe away from the amiable gemütlich strolls in the Vienna woods one instinctively associates with this work.Nonetheless, they sound like a seasoned team who’ve been playing together for years. Moments to savour are the emergence of the warm ballast of the double bass in the Andante where the modulation darkens like the sun when a cloud scuds in front of it on a windy day. Whether we need another Trout Quintet, no matter how star-studded the cast, is another matter. My own favouite is the Richter/Borodins who observe every repeat.
Even by Schubert’s stratospheric standards, the E Flat Nocturne is one of his most mysterious and sublime works. This group handle it well but, for me, they are simply no competition for the Beaux Arts Trio, who are almost two minutes slower.