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The Complete String Trios: Schubert & Purcell

Sakuntala Trio

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The Complete String Trios: Schubert & Purcell - Sakuntala Trio
Sakuntala Trio - Schubert Complete(d) Trios

Rebecca Chan violin
Sascha Bota
viola
Brian O'Kane
cello

In their debut album, the Sakuntala Trio unveils a world premiere recording of Franz Schubert’s String Trio in B-flat major, D.471, completed by Professor Brian Newbould. Schubert composed the first movement and the beginnings of the slow movement before putting the piece aside.

In Professor Newbould's own words:

"The first trio (D.471) would probably have had four movements too, if Schubert had finished it. But after the first movement he penned only a first section of the slow movement, then abandoned the work, without apparent reason. Perhaps his fertile imagination was already buzzing with ideas for the Fifth Symphony, which in any case claimed his attention in a matter of days as it was begun in the same month. What Schubert left of his Andante sostenuto amounts to a complete first section, comprising two statements of its theme, the first leading away from its key and embracing a few moments where the sky darkens in a dialogue of violin and cello around a throbbing viola, before the key is resumed for the second statement, which duly closes in a formal cadence – at which point Schubert lays down his pen.

This gem of a fragment, suggesting to me - though unobtrusively - an acquaintance with Mozart’s Divertimento for string trio, cried out for completion. That, I concluded, would best be done by adding a contrasting central section, followed by a return of the first section, the result being a simple ternary form. In realising this plan I learned a simple lesson from the slow movement of the Fourth Symphony, finished just five months earlier, where Schubert carries forward elements of the middle section to enrich the returning first section. I also added a short coda fusing elements from both sources. Given that the Schubert repertoire for the trio group is so slender, and confined to the ‘prentice years’, I took it upon myself in this instance to turn a half-work into a complete one, doing so according to principles as Schubertian and rational as possible."

The album also includes Schubert’s revised String Trio in B-flat major, D.581, and a collection of Peter Warlock’s transcriptions of Henry Purcell's Three-Part Fantasias.

"The Sakuntala Trio, making its recording debut, is captured in intimate but airy sound. A delight all round"

- The Strad

The album is available to buy here and on all major streaming services.

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