CHRISTIAN PALMER: Piano Trios 1, 2, 3, 5 – Hungarian Piano Trio – Hungaroton

by | Aug 6, 2007 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

CHRISTIAN PALMER: Piano Trios 1, 2, 3, 5 – Hungarian Piano Trio – Hungaroton HCD 32442, 73:03 ****:

Christian Palmer (1811-75) was an amateur in the best and noblest sense of the word. Born in Baden-Württemberg, he entered the Lutheran seminary in Tubingen and also studied organ, piano, flute, and violin, embarking on a dual career of sorts that was to last his whole life. While never abandoning his ministry as his primary calling, he was greatly concerned for the quality of musical life in his parishes, and often that meant composing the music himself. He created songs, cantatas, and chamber music for various ensembles, while also finding the time to give lectures on the greats of the day, notably Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. His considerable accomplishments in the pulpit and drawing room made its way into the general public, and much acclaim for his achievements and good name came his way.

While the notes to this excellent release indicate that Mendelssohn was his ideal in terms of sound world, I hear more of Schubert in this music, without the last degree of angst that the little Viennese master was capable of. Perhaps Palmer’s Lutheran temperament put the squash on any morbid romantic yearnings he may have inherited during that age, I don’t know; and it would be a mistake to say that these four trios in any way approach those of Schubert—they do not, and he is not to be considered in that exalted category. But the music remains quite creative and thoroughly enjoyable to hear, and Palmer in every bar demonstrates his concern for quality and integrity. This came as a surprise to me, considering the plethora of second rate classical-romantic period music that is always being dug up, but this is first class stuff, well worth a perusal, and makes for some warm, companionable listening.

The Hungarian Piano Trio is a fine ensemble, supplying the needed amount of burnish and oak to their performances, and the sound is very nicely done, if maybe just a little constricted (it sounds better on headphones to me). This would make a wonderful gift for a friend who thinks they have heard it all, but me, I’m keeping mine for myself.

— Steven Ritter

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