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Schubert: Trio, Op. 99; Forellenquintett

Schubert: Trio, Op. 99; Forellenquintett

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The Busch Trio continues its Schubertian explorations in two works brimming with melodic invention and nostalgia: the Trio in B flat and the famous ‘Trout’ Quintet in A major. But to those who see Schubert as the embodiment of the gemütlich (cosy) face of Vienna, his output, and especially his chamber music, responds with a spirituality, an intensity, and sometimes even a fury that are far removed from the atmosphere of the ‘Schubertiade’.

Despite the ‘effortless musicianship’ (The Times) and great emotional sensitivity ascribed to the Busch Trio by the press and their loyal fans, these three musicians are guided by the head as much as the heart when playing music, being very much aware of what they are doing. ‘The more you know, the more freedom you feel’ is one of the key maxims of the ensemble.


The Busch Trio rivals classics recordings by, among others, Rudolf Serkin and the Marlboro Festival ensemble's, for musicianship and might be the most varied and imaginative of all. In addition, the recorded sound is the best of the lot, both for balancing the five instruments and for beauty. The tempos in all three performances are close, so that is a non-issue. There’s such a palpable delight communicated by the playing that I find this new account irresistible. The variations on “Die Forelle” that give the quintet its nickname are done with the lyrical phrasing of an exquisite Lieder singer. This testifies to the virtue mentioned above, that we hear a unified musical mind in the interpretation. In other hands the “Trout” Quintet can veer into sameness by the end, which the Busch Trio counters with a finale that sparkles exuberantly.

I have no hesitation in ranking both performances at or very near the top of a crowded catalog. The old guard fades, and it is heartening that the new generation can express Schubert as beautifully as anyone from the past.

-- Fanfare

Enthusiasm, affection and style...all those qualities are here again in abundance [on the Busch Trio's second Schubert album], the B flat Trio radiant where the E flat is motivically combative, the Trout Quintet perhaps the sine qua non of works composed for companionable music-making.

The striding opening of the Trio is suitably outgoing here, vividly transmitting its melodic generosity, but this ensemble’s extroversion does not ignore the clouds that cover its essentially sunny outlook on occasion. The mood is appropriately tender in the Andante, quizzical in the Scherzo and urbane in the finale. The Busch Trio’s sympathy with this repertoire feels absolute, their communicative ardour evident throughout the performance.

The two trios are works on the largest scale, so don’t often come with much more than brief couplings to add a few minutes to the running time. So it’s a blessing indeed to have the B flat Trio coupled with a whole Trout Quintet, and not one that’s rushed through, either. The Trout is one of those works that seems indestructible: it’s virtually impossible for even the most half-hearted performance not to convey bags of charm and charisma. When it’s played with the affection that the Busch lavish upon it, it’s irresistible. The recording smooths the edges off the piano sound but enables the contribution of each player to be heard ideally. Omri Epstein’s piano bubbles and ripples infectiously but the whole is anchored by the buoyant bass of Naomi Shaham. A true delight from start to finish.

-- Gramophone

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    • UPC/Barcode: 3760014198847
    • Item Number: ALPHA884