- Piano Trio No. 1 in B major, Op. 8
- Piano Trio No. 2 in C major, Op. 87
- Piano Trio No. 3 in C minor, Op. 101
Instead of forming a permanent chamber ensemble, violinist Renaud Capuçon and his brother, cellist Gautier Capuçon, prefer to work with different partners, whom they choose for particular skills and strong affinities for a given project. For this double-disc of Brahms' "Piano Trios," they have enlisted pianist Nicholas Angelich, a friend and frequent participant in their concerts of Romantic chamber music. Their camaraderie fosters a conversational approach, and their performances are convivial and fleet, with a greater emphasis on momentum than on gravitas. The ardent "Piano Trio No. 1," which might be called "young man's music," especially benefits from the Capuçons' agility and light tone, and Angelich's robust playing. The "Piano Trio No. 2" is a seriously argued piece, and the trio responds to it with a more subdued mood. Even so, their textures remain transparent and well-defined, an antidote to the thickness so often applied to Brahms' mature works. Of a darker cast and perhaps the least-suited to this ensemble's buoyancy, the "Piano Trio No. 3" is the only disappointment. The Capuçons and Angelich are assertive and accurate, but they do not penetrate the music deeply enough to make it compelling. Virgin's recording offers natural resonance and clarity, though the cello sounds a little weak in the mix.