Briggs Piano Trio, Gál, Piano Trio in E, Op 18; Variations On A Popular Viennese Tune, Op 9; Shostakovich, Piano Trio No 2 in E minor, Op 67 (Avie AV2390) ****

PIANIST Sarah Beth Briggs, York-based but enjoying an international career, has moved to a big-name label and, as if in celebration, has issued two discs within the last six months. She combines splendidly with violinist David Juritz and cellist Kenneth Woods in her latest trio.

Hans Gál’s Viennese roots shine through every bar here, his style much closer to Brahms than to his contemporary Schoenberg. The ensemble’s rhythmic vitality is ideal for the Gál trio’s spacious opening, but also for the jaunty, piano-led allegro in the finale. The Viennese tune of the variations is a mock-innocent folksong overheard in a wine-bar: Gal invests it with spicy café-style humour.

The equally engaging Shostakovich is a more sombre affair, written after the death of a close friend. There is a spritely Allegro before the majestic, deeply elegiac Largo and the finale has a strong gypsy flavour, which the group probes fully.

York Press:

From delightful variation to pleasing mellowness: Sarah Beth Briggs' paino playing

Sarah Beth Briggs (piano), Schumann, Papillons and Kinderszenen; Brahms, Intermezzos Op 117 and Six Pieces Op 118 (Avie AV 2398) ***

JUST published is Briggs’s excursion into Schumann and Brahms. She delivers delightful variation in the dances of Schumann’s Papillons, but in a colourful account of his Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood) she is inclined to overdo the nostalgia with rubato that lingers too long.

Her forays into late Brahms are pleasingly mellow. Her phrasing is always intelligent in Op 117. There is plenty of passion in Nos 1 and 3 of Op 118; No 5 she makes a touching lullaby. Overall, I detect a new maturity in her playing: these discs are a most welcome addition to my library. Martin Dreyer