Trio Fontaine Excel with Swiss Piano Trios

This release features piano trios by two Swiss composers: Hermann Goetz and Hans  Huber. And they’re performed by a Swiss ensemble, the Trio Fontaine.

Hans Huber is an important figure in Swiss music. He wrote eight symphonies, six concertos, six operates, and a variety of other works. Huber was a late-Romantic composer, with a style similar to Brahms.

His Piano Trio in E-flat major, Op. 20 is a four-movement work that beguiles the ear. The melodies are a little four-square, but Huber (like Brahms) knows how to work with his material. The underlying logic of the work makes it easy to follow and appreciate even at first hearing.

Hermann Goetz was born in Germany, but he moved to Switzerland at 23 and remained there for life. Goetz’s music lapsed into obscurity after his death in 1876. But it had its admirers. George Bernard Shaw was a fan. So was Gustav Mahler, who programmed some of Gopetz’s works.

The Piano Trio in G minor, Op. 1 was written in 1863. Stylistically, Goetz seems to owe much to Mendelssohn. There are lightness and clarity to the score that’s missing in Huber’s. Goetz uses his motifs as foundational blocks. They may be transformed as the work progresses, but they still provide signposts to orient the listener.

The Trio Fontane is a young ensemble. They’re dedicated to rediscovering forgotten composers, and that passion translates will into their performances. The musicians play with real commitment, and it pays off. Perhaps its an affinity this Swiss trio has with music by Swiss composers. The Trio Fontaine delivers time and again with passages full of energy and excitement.

In my opinion, the recording wasn’t the best. The piano has a slightly muffled sound, which sometimes deadens the impact of attacks. The sound of the cello is also a little boomy for my taste, while the violin’s tone had a steely edge to it. In the long run, my desire to hear this music outweighed my complaints about the recorded sound. But your mileage may vary.

Hermann Goetz, Hans Huber
Piano Trios
Trio Fontaine
Solo Musica SM336

More Recent Posts