Emanuel Bach was always keen to keep abreast of the latest trends in the musical world of the 18th century … Ever anon he sought to explore the various new genres that emerged, particularly in the field of chamber music, and the results are often striking in their originality … For these trios, it was a means both of exploring a developing chamber genre and a chance to write for a larger (and paying) public.
These all date from 1775–76 and were published in the last year later as “sonatas”, though in typical fashion for the time the title pages relegate the violin and cello to the accompaniment, with the focus on the keyboard …
These works reflect Bach’s interest in both experimentation and harmony. This makes them quite advanced for the time, as recent studies have all noted … The most adventurous is the E Minor Trio (Wq 89/5), with a finale that would not have been out of place in Beethoven (and here one must ask if the latter, who considered Bach the “father”, knew it, as it anticipates his fortepiano sonatas in the sequencing).
If the Wq 89 trios are in some respects advanced, then the two sets (Wq 90–91) leap into the future. The contrasting Andante moments and furious outbursts of Allegro in the F Major Trio (Wq 91/3), sound at moments like Chopin, and then Beethoven intrudes with a momentary fantasy … We are back in the world of Beethoven in the opening Presto of the A Minor Trio (Wq 90/1), with its flashy scalar runs in the piano, emotional and quite lyrical Andante (with pizzicato cello), and the twinkling and very severe final Presto. One really nice movement is the Larghetto from the G-Major Trio (Wq 90/2) which is a calm and peaceful aria, as long as it lasts (which is only about 40 seconds), ending with a rather fiery flourish at the cadences of the conjoined finale…
The performance by the Linos Trio is excellent, demonstrating with ease and sensitivity the fine details of the music.
The violin of Konrad Elias-Trostman is often relegated to the distant background, but the cello portion of Vladimir Waltham lends depth to the bass lines. Of course, the central focus is on the playing of Prach Boondiskulchok, which is quite attuned to Bach’s shifts, accomplishing these with ease.
The sound is intimate, and for works that need close scrutiny in terms of musical content, one could not ask for a better performance.
The use of modern instruments is done with such skill that one might mistake them for period. That alone should tell you much about this disc’s excellence.
This should be part of everyone’s Classical period chamber collection.