Hyperion’s record of the month for March presents Schubert’s much-loved ‘Trout’ Quintet, one of the most popular chamber music pieces of all time. The young Schubert, inspired by the surroundings of a summer trip in the Austrian Alps, decided to use material from his earlier song ‘Die Forelle’ (’The Trout’, D550) as the basis for the beautiful fourth movement of his Quintet. Composed in five movements, the ‘Trout’ is unusual in being scored for a double bass in place of the expected second violin; the resulting transparency of texture and infectious melodies instantly bring to mind the calm serenity of summer mountain air and the ‘darting’ piano accompaniment in the fourth movement vividly conjures up that wriggling trout!
Also on this disc are Schubert’s two string trios. D471 (written in 1816) is just a single movement, which may suggest that he was having some difficulty mastering this demanding medium; however by 1817, at the age of just twenty, he was finding his own distinctive voice with his four-movement Trio, D581.
The Leopold String Trio, considered one of the world’s most outstanding string trios, here performs these works with remarkable poise and expression. For the ‘Trout’ they are joined by the pianist Paul Lewis (himself a fine Schubertian) and double bassist Graham Mitchell: these fine young musicians bring to these works the engaging freshness, calm authority and generosity of spirit the music deserves.