Fourteen Little Pictures
Piano Trio in E flat, D929
Gould Piano Trio [Lucy Gould (violin), Alice Neary (cello) & Benjamin Frith (piano)]

Recorded 17 July 2008 in Wigmore Hall, London
Duration: 74 minutes
Reviewed: February 2009
MacMillan's Fourteen Little Pictures and Schubert's Piano Trio in E flat James MacMillan’s fourteen aphorisms (composed in 1997 for György Pauk, Ralph Kirshbaum and Peter Frankl) make up a through-composed 23-minute piece that climaxes at section 11. The music, for all its internal brevity (each ‘Picture’ is assigned its own track), adds up to a convincing whole, a particularly intense piece that culminates in the last (and longest) portion that almost exclusively features the piano, a distant reflection on what has gone before.
Schubert’s E flat Piano Trio is given an expansive outing by the Gould Trio, the first movement weighty and time-taken, its expressive message finely captured. With the exposition repeated the performance is on the largest possible scale, not least when the finale is of a similar length (16 minutes). The middle movements are in perfect proportion, too, both to themselves and within the whole. The second movement (marked Andante con moto) enjoys a march-like tempo as well as Alice Neary’s plaintive cello solo; indeed, there is much feeling displayed by all three musicians. The scherzo is also on the move, scurrying while retaining its elegant shape. As for the outsize finale, the players feel no pressure to hurry it along; the result is initially carefree, the succeeding episodes (including a return of the second movement’s main idea) well characterised en route to the homecoming.
With recorded sound that is intimate, airy and truthful – but with perhaps a bit too much post-performance applause retained (about 90 seconds in all) – this is a very recommendable release.


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