Album Title: Franz Schubert's Trout Quintet
Performers: Sir Clifford Curzon (piano), Willi Boskovsky (violin), Günther Breitenbach (viola), Nikolaus Hubner (cello), Johann Krump (double bass)
Label and #: Speakers Corner Decca SXL 2110
Recorded: November 1957

52 years after it was masterfully captured by the recording engineers at Decca, this recording of Schubert's 'Trout' Quintet by Curzon and members of the Vienna Octet remains polarizing. You either love or hate it. Hopefully this re-edition by Speakers Corner might help bridge some of the differences as it finally reveals the dense and rich sonorities the previous CD releases utterly failed at conveying. Technically, the octet is "in the room". The grunting double bass, agile fiddle and emotional cello are all well sized, well positioned and superbly voiced. A major complaint about this recording were the whiney violin and dry cello. The great news is that this vinyl re-edition proves once and for all that those where CD artifacts. Nothing now stands in the way of musical enjoyment .

What remains is disagreement on interpretation styles. This Trout is all Viennese dance as though the players could not quite shake off the acquired taint of Strauss waltzes. Thankfully the music accommodates it fairly well and the famous trout variations are taken with a lively, almost joyful tempo that gives all the meaning. The other four movements are more hit or miss - a big hit if you enjoy a Straussian read of Schubert, a miss if you don’t. I personally enjoy a little more tension and a little less sweetener in my Schubert but that really is a matter of taste.

If you know you enjoyed this performance in the past and were waiting for a chance to hear it in all its glorious original sound, this release is made for you. If you are looking for your first record of the Trout, it might be wiser to start with a more consensual version like the 1967 recording by Serkin at the Marlboro festival (Sony) or my personal favorite by Richter and the Borodin Quartet (EMI).