The string quartet is the pinnacle of Classical chamber music, but the string trio doesn’t get the same respect. Few trios in fact, have made their way into the standard chamber music repertory with the exception of Beethoven’s Op.9 trios, two Schubert trios, Mozart’s E-flat divertimento.
The Beethoven, Schubert and Mozart trios are performed often enough, but a new recording from The Vivaldi Project asks the question, “Is this really all there is?” Violinists Elizabeth Field and Allison Edberg Nyquist, together with cellist, Stephanie Vial, answer with their 2016 release called, Discovering the Classical Trio. The recording includes bigwigs of the 18th century like Haydn, Boccherini, and Bach’s youngest son Johann Christian. And then there trios by lesser known composers as well—Campioni, Cannabich, Cambini, and Giardini.
In their performance of Boccherini’s D major Trietti for two violins and bass, the players of the Vivaldi Project together create a sound with a satisfying core that when coupled with a good measure of lightness and grace and clear attention to phrasing, gives listeners lots to enjoy. Boccherini was a cellist, and it is the Vivaldi Projects own cellist, Stephanie Vial, who provides the thoughtful and accessible notes on the program that accompany this disc.
Haydn’s contribution to Classical chamber music by way of his string quartets is so well-founded that we often call him “Papa Haydn, the Father of the string quartet." His Divertimenti a Tre are somewhat less appreciated, so it’s wonderful to hear one performed on this disc. The opening dramatic Adagio is handled with assurance and spot-on intonation by violinist Elizabeth Field.
Giardini and Cambini
For the final two trios on this recording by Giardini and Cambini, violinist Allison Edberg Nyquist trades up from violin to viola. This violin-viola-cello formation not only lends a greater depth of sound than was had in the trios for two violins and bass, but it also signals a different type of composition in which melodic material is more evenly shared between each of the players.