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Sunday, November 22, 2020

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach - Piano Trios (Linos Piano Trio)


Composer: Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach

  • Six Sonatas for the Harpsichord or Pianoforte accompanied by Violin and Violoncello Wq 89
  • Keyboard Sonatas with Accompaniment of a Violin and Cello Wq 90-91

Linos Piano Trio
Prach Boondiskulchok, piano
Konrad Elias-Trostmann, violin
Vladimir Waltham, cello

Date: 2020
Label: CAvi-music



The piano trios of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach were originally published (beginning with Wq89 in 1776) with a cumbersome but more apt title: Sonatas for the Harpsichord or Pianoforte accompanied by Violin and Violoncello. And indeed, unlike the trios of Mozart and Beethoven, in which the players share both the duty and the glory, the burden of the main musical line in the Bach works falls on the keyboard player. The cellist often underscores the harmonies while the violinist accentuates thematic material and offers an occasional riposte. The effect is a bit like listening to a gifted but garrulous raconteur, flanked by two admirers who expostulate things like ‘Just so …’ and ‘Indubitably’.

For the sake of brevity, and to connect these prototype trios to the more elaborate and articulated genera that were emerging in the later decades of the 18th century, the Linos Trio call them simply trios. Gathered here are the original six works, designed for the burgeoning milieu of domestic and amateur music-making, and seven more, including the single-movement Arioso with variations from the last set, a melodic and expressive highlight of the collection. The playing is smart, efficient and alert to Bach’s quicksilver changes of mood and material.

But it also seems to be hampered by the decision to think of these works as trios. Consider by contrast the performances of Trio 1790, with their rough-and-tumble fortepiano leading the way, exuberantly, bumptiously and perhaps more effectively than the somewhat tempered performance by the Linos players. Both performances are satisfying but the 1790 players clearly see these works as solo sonatas with two accompanying lines, and they work better that way. Bach’s keyboard-writing is so idiosyncratic, so mercurial in its twists and turns, that one wants the soloist to be just that, a soloist. A committee approach, with judicious collaboration, doesn’t work nearly so well.

Nevertheless, there is much to admire in the Linos reading, especially the last track, with the gorgeous aria theme and fleetly rendered variations. This two-disc set also includes the two trio collections Wq90 and 91, published within a year or so of each other, so it offers a better sense of the arc of Bach’s creativity in this nascent but fascinating genre.

-- Philip Kennicott, Gramophone

More reviews:


Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (8 March 1714 – 14 December 1788) was a German Classical period musician and composer, the fifth child of Johann Sebastian Bach. C. P. E. Bach was an influential composer working at a time of transition between his father's Baroque style and the Classical style that followed it. Among his most popular and frequently recorded works are his symphonies, as well as many keyboard concertos and sonatas. Bach was also an influential pedagogue, writing the ever influential “Essay on the true art of playing keyboard instruments ” which would be studied by Haydn and Beethoven, among others.


Founded in October 2007, the Linos Piano Trio studied at the Guildhall and then at the Musikhochschule Hannover with Oliver Wille and Markus Becker. The trio won First Prize and Audience Prize at the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition in 2015, and has performed at prestigious venues worldwide. The Linos Piano Trio recently made their debut appearance in Italy, and their busy 2019-20 season includes numerous performances across the UK as well as concerts in France and Germany. Since 2017 they have held the position of ‘Artists-in-Residence’ at Trinity Laban Conservatoire in London.


FLAC, tracks
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