CD Reviews

Loose Elbows – Susan Tomes plays the piano music of Billy Mayerl

(Virgin Classics CUV5613232)

CD artwork“I loved it: ragtime, in wistful English style, recreated with a deft, stylish touch by Susan Tomes.”
The Observer, 1st Oct 1989

“Listeners will be enchanted at every point by Susan Tomes’s beautifully fresh and idiomatic performances.”
HiFi News, Feb 1990

“Susan Tomes’ flexible, highly colourful style is absolutely right for this effervescent music. She combines virtuosity, drive and always the most refined balance between the many rhythmic gears of the music, and she does it effortlessly – as if she could defy gravity.”
FonoForum, Germany, Jan 1990

“Demonstrates a full command of their technical complexities as much as their gentle charms. I can go on and on listening to music as melodic and charming as this and so splendidly played. A most delightful collection.”
Gramophone, Feb 1990

“The best of his pieces sound surprisingly undated, and in the hands of this stunning pianist they emerge with refreshing spontaneity. Indeed this brilliant and talented artist has those ‘Loose Elbows’ which are an essential part of the Mayerl style. The easy, flowing flexibility of the playing is as remarkable as the dash and verve of the bravura, so well displayed in the closing tour de force of Railroad Rhythm.”
Penguin Guide to Bargain Discs

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Mozart piano concertos/SusanTomes (piano)/Gaudier Ensemble

(Hyperion Records CDA67358)

CD artwork“Susan Tomes’s playing has all the qualities for which Mozart himself was renowned: delicacy, agility, neatness, expressive eloquence. In close creative dialogue with the Gaudier Ensemble she brings limpid, subtly coloured tone to the lyrical melodies, makes Mozart’s passagework dance and sparkle, and relishes opportunities for sly and witty timing. Crucially, too, in Mozart, she knows when to be simple. A delightful disc.”
Telegraph, 13th Mar 2004

“Really, there is surprisingly little to say about this disc. It is fabulous music, and you will not hear a better performance. One can be fairly certain that this will be a favourite on many people’s list for 2004 releases. It all makes so much sense in this style that it seems difficult to believe that any other form should be possible. The other aspect that leads one to say that you will not hear a better performance is the presence of Susan Tomes. To this writer’s ear there are few better Mozartians at the piano than Susan Tomes. She has an instantly recognisable sound, exemplified by warmth of touch but almost crystalline bell-like quality of timbre. Famous, of course, for her work with Domus and, more recently the Florestan Trio Tomes is so steeped in classical Chamber music that she appears to breathe the style with as much ease as Mozart did. Her sound is simply absolutely right for this music. …Throughout, this disc is an absolute joy. Hyperion at its best; beautifully recorded and presented.”
www.musicweb.uk.net

“For these first 3 concertos of his last decade in Vienna, Mozart also prepared chamber versions for solo piano and string quartet without wind players, in parallel with the now well-known versions for orchestra. The Gaudier Ensemble of London, together with the pianist Susan Tomes, has now presented these more intimate versions which in fact favour the soloist better, in a finely balanced, lyrical, and at the same time gently pulsating interpretation. ..The big Steinway grand shines in the soloist’s hands with the most beguilingly beautiful sounds. The complex beauty of Mozart’s concerto form, and its proximity to his operas and his view of the human condition, find almost clearer expression in this smaller version.”
Bavarian Radio (Bayern 4 Klassik), Apr 2004

“There are few recording pianists to match Susan Tomes in clarity of articulation, and here she leads sparkling performances.”
The Guardian, 9th Jan 2004

“Light and air are everywhere; the transparency of the sound remains a constant delight. … and the other major attribute is the sense of musicians bouncing their performances off one another. Mozart himself told his father the concertos were ‘very brilliant’, and fell ‘agreeably on the ear’, so Tomes’s fingerwork, always light and precise, would appear to be made to measure… This disc offers major pleasures and refreshment.”
The Times, 9th Jan 2004

“These chamber versions of Mozart’s concertos 11-13 (K413-5) are as genuine as the full article. ..Clearly this is chamber music in essence, and in these exquisite performances you can hear that the soloist Susan Tomes has a much more intimate relationship with her accompaniment than could ever be achieved with an orchestra. The concertos sound so good that you can only feel sorry for Mozart, who often had to deal with jammed notes and broken strings on instruments that were still many decades away from the perfection of the modern concert grand.”
Glasgow Herald, Feb 2004

“A quattro means with four string players. That is how the concertos are done here, and the result, as they are played with such intelligent and perceptive musicianship, is delightful. I have nothing but praise for Susan Tomes’s graceful, thoughtful performances, which are full of good things, with many felicitous details of timing and shaping.”
Gramophone, Apr 2004

“These are not the piano concertos we know. When Mozart released them to subscribers in 1783, he made clear that they could be played either with full orchestra or with string quartet only. It is in this more intimate guise that these elegant, resourceful pieces are recorded here. They work beautifully. Susan Tomes sacrifices glittering brilliance for a refined, understated, very private approach, bringing a warm singing tone, especially to the slow music, which is sheer loveliness.”
Evening Standard, 27th Jan 2004

“These genial, good-natured concertos really work as chamber pieces, and Susan Tomes’s playing is unfailingly graceful.”
Radio 3’s CD Review, 7th Feb 2004

“Susan Tomes is a cool-headed, silver-fingered soloist, arguing cogently with the excellent strings.”
Classic FM magazine, Mar 2004

“Susan Tomes convinces us fully and completely with her persuasive playing. She does not use grand gestures, but subtle nuances. She converses with her partners. Amazingly, the piano does not sound as dominant as one might expect in a concerto with reduced orchestral forces; rather, you feel as if you’re hearing a piano quartet. …This gentle, musically immaculate performance deserves to be widely known.”
magazin.klassik.com

“Throughout her career, this marvellous pianist has shown an extraordinary sense for chamber music, and it is exactly this spirit which she breathes into the concertos, imposing her character on the music with her delicate phrasing, her great sensitivity, and a musicality without equal.”
www.lamediatheque.be

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Susan Tomes in duos:

Fauré: Violin and Piano Sonatas/Krysia Osostowicz (violin), Susan Tomes (piano)

(Hyperion CDA66277)

CD artworkBBC ‘BUILDING A LIBRARY’ BEST RECORDING

“Two outstanding performances. A marvellous disc, both as a performance and as a recording.”
The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs

“One of the most fascinating and persuasive recordings of Fauré ever.”
Fanfare, USA

“A fine disc.”
BBC Music Magazine Top 1000 CDs Guide

“It is hard to imagine a more idiomatic or impassioned performance of this underrated masterpiece.”
BBC Music Magazine

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Brahms: Sonatas for Violin and Piano/Krysia Osostowicz (violin) and Susan Tomes (piano)

(Hyperion CDA66465)

CD artwork“Krysia Osostowicz and Susan Tomes have a wonderful naturalness about their playing; it is true chamber music.”
The Times

“Subtle enough to suggest that for both artists these performances were a revelatory voyage of discovery.”
Gramophone

“Recordings of the Brahms Violin Sonatas occupy a crowded field, but this disc stood out on its first appearance as one of the best versions available, and so it remains. Osostowicz and Tomes seem in perfect accord with Brahms, and with each other. The spontaneity and rapport of their playing, and the depth of their interpretation, seem to increase with each opus.”
BBC Music Magazine, Mar 2002

‘For elusive poetry, try Krysia Osostowicz and Susan Tomes on Hyperion.’
The Observer, Mar 2010

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Schumann: Violin and Piano Sonatas and Three Romances/Anthony Marwood (violin) and Susan Tomes (piano)

(Hyperion CDA67180)

CD artwork“The best performances of these pieces on disc.”
Gramophone

“Recommended, without reservation.”
Fanfare, USA

“The performances have all the virtues – clarity, focus, warmth of feeling, superb technique – that have distinguished The Florestan Trio’s discs.”
International Record Review

“Stylish, full-blooded artistry … matched with impeccable performing.”
Radio 3’s CD Review

“With passionate expression – Schumann writes as the title of the first movement of his first violin sonata. Anthony Marwood and Susan Tomes blend their imaginations so well, that as one listens one wants to melt into their sound. The music lives from their unspoken understanding; what they read between the lines is what touches us the most.”
www.ndr.de

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Mendelssohn complete music for cello and piano with Richard Lester, cello

(Hyperion CDA66478)

CD artwork“Chamber-music playing of the highest order, empathetic and warm-hearted”
Birmingham Post

“Since the performances are expert in every respect this disc deserves a wide audience”
Classic CD

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Bartok: Sonata, Contrasts, Rhapsodies/Krysia Osostowicz (violin), Susan Tomes (piano), Michael Collins (clarinet)

(Hyperion CDH55149)

CD artwork“Go out and buy a copy.”
Classic CD

“Enthralling programme … a riveting account of Bartók’s Sonata … fiery intensity, commanding technique and perfect intonation.”
The Strad

“An outstandingly successful and enjoyable issue.”
Gramophone

“A distinguished and well recorded issue.”
The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs

“…this music has never sounded so seductive on disc … Everything is played with a glowing affection and naturalness.”
International Record Review

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Susan Tomes with the piano quartet Domus:

Fauré: Piano Quartets/Domus

(Hyperion CDA66166)

CD artworkGRAMOPHONE AWARD WINNER
PREIS DER DEUTSCHEN SCHALLPLATTENKRITIK
TÉLÉRAMA ÉVÉNEMENT EXCEPTIONELLE, FRANCE
PENGUIN GUIDE ROSETTE
BBC ‘BUILDING A LIBRARY’ BEST RECORDING
CLASSIC CD 100 GREATEST DISCS OF THE DECADE
DIAPASON D’OR

“It’s a long time since I’ve enjoyed a record so much on so many counts – performance, recording, presentation… and the music itself.”
Gramophone

“Music-making at the highest level of accomplishment.”
The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs

“[An] exceptional disc. The performances rank with the best I know.”
International Record Review

“Remains one of the freshest and most enchanting recordings available of Fauré’s piano quartets.”
Amazon.co.uk

“These performances of Fauré’s piano quartets from Domus are a highlight of the label and should be in every collection…an exquisitely vivacious reading. These sublime accounts have been without peer in this extraordinary contrasting pair of chamber masterpieces.”
BBC Music Magazine

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Dvorak: Piano Quartets/Domus

(Hyperion CDA66287)

CD artworkGRAMOPHONE CRITICS’ CHOICE
PENGUIN GUIDE ROSETTE

“Glorious pieces, and the playing of Domus is little short of inspired. An altogether outstanding chamber music record.”
The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs

“One of the most outstanding chamber music records I have heard for some time.”
Gramophone

“Performances that are unlikely to be superceded in the near future.”
Music & Musicians

“One of the best chamber music CDs in the catalogue.”
Fanfare, USA

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Fauré: Piano Quintets/Domus with Anthony Marwood, violin

(Hyperion CDA66766)

CD artworkGRAMOPHONE AWARD WINNER
PENGUIN GUIDE ROSETTE
GRAND PRIX DU DISQUE
DIAPASON D’OR

“Among the new discs celebrating the 150th anniversary of Fauré’s birth this is outstanding.”
The Guardian

“Profound and fascinating works of alluring beauty performed with care and affection.”
Classic CD

“Chamber music disc of the month … stunningly played … beautifully recorded … A worthy successor to the group’s set of the two Piano Quartets.”
Classic FM Magazine

“An outstanding issue.”
The Guardian

“Exquisite.”
San Francisco Examiner

“Quelle merveille!”
Diapason, France

“The playing of Domus in these two masterpieces is as light, delicate and full of insight as one would expect. They make one fall for this music all over again. This is the best-ever version of these two pieces.”
Penguin Guide to Compact Discs

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Susan Tomes with the Gaudier Ensemble:

Dvorak: Piano Quintet in A opus 81/Gaudier Ensemble

(Hyperion CDA66796)

CD artwork“The Piano Quintet comes off marvellously and compares favourably with any performance on record, past or present.”
The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs

“L’homogènéité des instrumentistes, la fraîcheur de l’inspiration, la passion pudique paraissent en pleine lumière.”
Le Monde de la Musique, France

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Mozart: Oboe Quartet; Horn Quintet; Piano and Wind Quintet; Quintet Movement, K580b Gaudier Ensemble

(Hyperion CDA67277)

CD artwork“The Gaudier offers an ideal Mozart grouping of four wind-based chamber works. The oboist, Douglas Boyd, brings out the depth in the slow movement of the Oboe Quartet as well as the fun of the outer movements. Jonathan Williams is brilliant in the Horn Quintet, and Susan Tomes is outstanding on piano in the Piano and Wind Quintet.”
The Guardian, Nov 2001

“Ravishingly delightful.”
American Record Guide

“Anyone interested in this particular program is unlikely to be anything but delighted with this disc.”
Fanfare, USA

“If you want a disc to demonstrate Mozart’s uncanny feeling for the individual character and colour of wind instruments, this disc could well be the answer … Phrasing is not merely stylish but imaginatively alive, balance well-nigh ideal, and tempi shrewdly chosen: the 3/8 slow movements of both quintets, for instance, often over-indulged, are lyrically relaxed but never languid. In the piano and wind quintet I especially enjoyed Susan Tomes’s crystalline, singing tone and graceful phrasing, and the spontaneous-sounding give and take between the wind instruments, each one relishing its appointed role in Mozart’s quasi-operatic ensemble. … For refinement, colour and vitality of characterisation, the Gaudier can hold its own against all comers.”
BBC Music, Mar 2002

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Jean Francaix: A Huit & Divertissement/Gaudier Ensemble

(Hyperion CDA67036)

CD artwork“Four delightful works. Music which is as easy on the ear as it is beguilingly performed. A magical disc ideal for unwinding after a long hard day at the chalk face.”
Classic CD

“An hour’s worth of pure delight.”
Hi-Fi News

“An absolute must for every Françaix addict.”
Fanfare, USA

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Weber: Clarinet Quintet; Trio for Flute, Cello and Piano; Piano Quartet/Gaudier Ensemble

(Hyperion CDA67464)

CD artwork“The talented members of the pan-European Gaudier Ensemble are perfectly equipped to convey these different aspects of Weber’s musical personality … With a top-quality recording, this is a disc which does full and thoroughly entertaining justice to a still underrated master.”
BBC Music Magazine

“The Gaudier’s performances are thoroughly enjoyable: gracefully shaped, rhythmically exuberant and relishing the music’s sense of fun. The tricky instrumental balances in the trio and quartet are expertly managed, while pianist Susan Tomes’s scintillating fingerwork is a delight throughout.”
The Daily Telegraph

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Franz Berwald: Chamber Music/Gaudier Ensemble

(Hyperion CDD22053 – 2 discs)

CD artworkGRAMOPHONE EDITOR’S CHOICE in Gramophone magazine

“Delightful performances on which it would be difficult to improve, and excellent recordings too.”
The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs

“It is all hugely enjoyable and well recorded, with very present and finely detailed sound. Recommended with enthusiasm.”
Gramophone

“This is very fine chamber music playing indeed. Delightful music played in exactly the right spirit.”
Classic CD

“It is difficult to conceive of better performances than these; each of the players … combines to the highest degree a virtuoso command of his or her instrument, a complete involvement in the score at hand, and perfect blending in ensemble. Hyperion’s recording is as pure and natural as one could wish. Even the booklet is a model of what such things should be … Any serious collector who has not yet encountered this music should search for this disc ASAP.”
Fanfare, USA

“Superbe.”
Diapason, France

“I can’t imagine Susan Tomes’s playing will be surpassed in its sense of style and finesse. Much the same must be said of The Gaudier Ensemble who are little short of superb.”
Gramophone

“The Gaudier Ensemble is flawless, unfailingly persuasive and play with both vigour and polish which makes this issue irresistible.”
Fanfare, USA

“Cherish this glowing collection of near-masterpieces, played with the utmost sensitivity and panache by the Gaudiers and the always wonderful Susan Tomes.”
BBC Music Magazine

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Beethoven: Clarinet Trio, Quintet for Piano and Winds, Serenade/Gaudier Ensemble

(Hyperion CDA67526)

CD artwork“Comprising several founding members of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and the outstanding pianist Susan Tomes, the Gaudier has become one of the world’s elite chamber ensembles… The performances are of superlative quality: sophisticated ‘conversations’ between musicians of rare insight in works deserving wider circulation.”
Sunday Times, 5th Jun 2006

“This is a delughtful program of ‘Beethoven-lite’ for which the Gaudier Ensemble makes the best possible case. Recording and notes are up to Hyperion’s usual standards. I, for one, am grateful that the label seems to have survived its devastating lawsuit loss and is still able to continue producing such wonderful recordings. Recommended.”
Fanfare, USA

“Experience has demonstrated to me that any new recording from the Gaudier Ensemble is cause for rejoicing.”
MusicWeb International

“Ce CD procure d’infinis bonheurs et d’abord ceux d’une entente et d’une homogénéité sonore parfaite entre les protagonistes des deux premières oeuvres.”
Classicstoday.fr

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Susan Tomes with the Florestan Trio:

Dvorak: Piano Trios in E minor and F minor/Florestan

(Hyperion CDA66895)

CD artwork“This is a wonderful disc. Another jewel in the heavily-studded Hyperion crown. A richly rewarding treat.”
Classic CD

“Musicianly and refined performances that will give much pleasure.”
The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs

“An enchanting disc.”
Gramophone

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Schumann: Piano Trios nos 1 and 2/Florestan

(Hyperion CDA67063)

CD artworkGRAMOPHONE AWARD WINNER
GRAMOPHONE CRITICS’ CHOICE
CLASSIC CD 100 GREATEST DISCS OF THE DECADE

“Revelatory performances. Technically flawless, yet they also convey a wonderful feeling of spontaneity and utter commitment to Schumann’s art.”
Classic CD

“No one who loves Schumann should miss this outstandingly fine new disc.”
BBC Music Magazine

“Some utterly magical playing here. An exemplary release.”
Hi-Fi News

“Incredibly tender playing of three musicians who are completely at one with each other.”
The Scotsman

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Schumann: Piano Trio in G minor; Piano Quartet; Fantasiestuecke/Florestan Trio, Thomas Riebl (viola)

(Hyperion CDA67175)

CD artwork“The Florestans – named after the more extrovert of Schumann’s two artistic alter egos – have, in only five years, established themselves as the piano trio par excellence of our day. Their previous Schumann disc, comprising the D minor and F major trios, won deserved acclaim and a clutch of awards. Now they turn their attention to the late G minor trio, a comparative rarity in the concert hall these days. Listening to such exhilarating, spontaneous accounts of this wonderful music, it is hard to understand its neglect. Another superlative issue from Hyperion and the Florestans.”
The Sunday Times

“The Florestan Trio plays all these works with characteristic thoughtfulness and intelligence. It is difficult to find fault with its performances. A valuable and highly enjoyable addition to the Schumann discography.”
BBC Music Magazine

“Revelatory performances from the Florestan. Excellently recorded, this welcome disc should win all three works a new lease of life.”
Gramophone

“A triumphant successor to their previous disc of Schumann. Indeed, it’s one of the best discs of Schumann chamber music I’ve heard in recent years.”
International Record Review

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Debussy, Fauré, Ravel: Piano Trios/Florestan Trio

(Hyperion CDA67114)

CD artwork“Fresh from their triumph at the Gramophone Awards with Schumann, the Florestans turn their attention to the French trio repertoire and, in particular, to a composer with whom pianist Susan Tomes and cellist Richard Lester have an especial affinity: Gabriel Fauré. Of the three works presented here, the Fauré is the latest (1923), but stylistically the D Minor Trio is as conservative as the G Minor Trio of the 18-year-old Debussy, although Fauré’s late essay in the form is unquestionably the greater work. The Florestans play both with a rhythmic urgency in the fast movements and rapt concentration in the Andantinos that take the breath away. They are even finer in Ravel’s masterpiece, playing with a technical bravura and sheer panache to match the greatest interpreters of this work on disc. Another absolute winner.”
The Sunday Times

“A delightful grouping of French trios from the Gramophone Award-winning Florestans, who breathe fresh life into these works … top of my list.”
Gramophone

“Such flair proves the Florestan Trio, if proof is needed, to be among the finest chamber ensembles of the present day. Outstandingly imaginative performances, finely recorded.”
Classic CD

“Beautifully wrought performances. Rendered with natural empathy and graceful ensemble-playing, the Florestan’s playing is quite glorious.”
Fanfare, USA

“From impressive to breathtaking.”
What Hi-Fi?

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Schubert: Trio in B flat; Notturno/Florestan Trio

(Hyperion CDA67273)

CD artwork“Is there a better trio than the Florestan playing today? All three members are consummate artists, outstanding instrumentalists, and ensemble players to the manner born, but it’s the playing of the pianist Susan Tomes that carries these performances to their greatest heights. Since the ensemble is perfectly judged by all concerned, it may seem unjust to single out the playing of one member for special comment, but such is the extreme sophistication, the extraordinary subtlety and the expressive range of this artist that I can see no alternative. The tonal control, the exquisite shaping of phrases, the rhythmical suppleness and structural backbone are of an order seldom encountered in the playing even of many famous soloists. But what renders her playing here still more remarkable is the exemplary precision with which it’s matched to the different sonorities and qualities of attack, so-called, of the string players. And what players they are. For all the above, this is not a pianist-dominated performance, except insofar as Schubert wrote the piece that way. In pure lyricism it’s surpassed only by Cortot-Thibaud-Casals etc.”
BBC Music Magazine, Feb 2002

“Marvellously alive, the phrasing playful when required, delicate but never precious, [the trio] frolic through with palpable joy and an unerring sense of ensemble. Placed alongside this CD, even the Beaux Arts Trio, old favourites in this repertoire, start to look staid.”
The Times

“I urge you not to miss the Florestan disc which certainly becomes my version of choice for the B flat Trio and the early trio movement.”
Fanfare, USA

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Schubert: Piano Trio in E flat/Florestan

(Hyperion CDA67347)

CD artwork“Clear the decks for paradise … the Florestans currently have the best all-round perspective on this singularly lovable work. A terrific recording is no hindrance either.”
The Times

“The Florestans make everything sound gloriously inevitable … the attractions of this immaculately balanced recording become well-nigh irresistible.”
International Record Review

“They show such complete control of every aspect of Schubert’s masterpiece that they sweep away all rivals.”
The Independent

“Tomes is exemplary and the excised portions are pure gold.”
The Sunday Express

“Pianist Tomes is not only blessed with a fluent technique … but also a true chamber musician’s ear … The recorded sound is warm, close, and well balanced.”
Fanfare, USA

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Beethoven: Complete Piano Trios, volume 1/Florestan Trio

(Hyperion CDA67327)

CD artwork“Consummately played … I doubt whether even Susan Tomes has ever produced a more pearly legato than here, making those passages where Beethoven appears to draw breath and ruminate upon some newly discovered poetic vision utterly exquisite. This becomes particularly apparent in the slow movement, much of which appears to float on air, as though hammers were simply not involved in the music-making process.”
International Record Review, Apr 2003

“This writer has long been a particular fan of Susan Tomes and this disc is further good proof of why. She has an instantly recognisable sound, exemplified by warmth of touch but almost crystalline bell-like quality of timbre. Famous, of course, for her work with Domus before forming the Florestan Trio, Tomes is so steeped in classical Chamber music that she appears to breathe the style with as much ease as Beethoven did. Her sound is simply absolutely right for this music.”
mstation.org

“Susan Tomes’s controlled, musical playing is a constant source of delight. She ensures that there is equality of discourse between all three instruments, and introduces a wide variety of subtle colourings.”
The Strad, Jun 2003

“I can’t say I have ever heard better.”
Fanfare, USA

“Pianist Susan Tomes conjures miracles of colouristic delicacy at speed.”
Radio 3 CD Review, Apr 2003

“The piano is the beating heart of the Florestan Trio. Susan Tomes plays in perfect balance with the two strings and never overwhelms them, not even in the densest passages.”
Muziek en Woord, Belgium, Apr 2003

“The Florestan Trio seems determined to extract every last ounce of energy, wit and spirit from these early Beethoven trios … The principal vehicle for conveying the music’s brightness is Susan Tomes’s finger-work, wonderfully precise and rhythmical.”
Gramophone

“Susan Tomes’s dancing, crystalline passagework is a constant delight; instrumental repartee is delectably crisp and pointed; and the players are acutely alive to the sudden moments of stillness and harmonic darkening.”
BBC Music Magazine

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Beethoven: Complete Piano Trios volume 2/Florestan Trio

(Hyperion CDA67369)

CD artwork“The playing of the Florestan Trio is memorable for its lyrical tenderness, its luminous sonorities and its rhythmic buoyancy.”
BBC Music Magazine

“With beautifully balanced recorded sound, it’s a CD for repeated listening.”
Gramophone

“The second issue in the Florestan Trio’s projected recordings of all Beethoven’s music for piano trio is one of this lively and sensitive ensemble’s best. The players do justice both to the sweetness and spaciousness and to the quirky humour of the great Archduke Trio, which receives a richly satisfying performance.”
The Sunday Times

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Beethoven: Complete Piano Trios volume 3/Florestan Trio

(Hyperion CDA67393)

CD artwork“Everything about this release is distinguished: superb engineering that puts the performers squarely in the room; virtuosic execution, with precision prevailing, even in the most rapidly executed runs; careful attention to balances, detail, and dynamics; and, perhaps most important, tempos that invariably hit the right emotional and aesthetic bull’s eye.”
Fanfare, USA

“This is the third volume of the Florestans’ four-CD set of the complete piano trios; like its predecessors, it’s a winner … The first two trios, recorded here, are among the young composer’s most engaging, entertaining and genial works, and they get performances of characteristic swagger, brio and wit from this elite ensemble, perhaps the finest contemporary exponents of this repertoire performing on modern instruments today. Sample the irresistible elan of the allegro first movements and dazzling presto finales, and be won over.”
The Sunday Times

“The Florestan Trio seems determined to extract every last ounce of energy, wit and spirit from these early works … The principal vehicle for conveying the music’s brightness is Susan Tomes’s finger-work, wonderfully precise and rhythmical.”
Gramophone

“Susan Tomes’s dancing, crystalline passagework is a constant delight; instrumental repartee is delectably crisp and pointed; and the players are acutely alive to the sudden moments of stillness and harmonic darkening.”
BBC Music Magazine

“The Florestan Trio’s collection of Beethoven trios is rounding itself out to be an outstanding cycle of an extraordinary standard. Now we have the opus 1 trios … The feeling of freshness and newness in the Florestan’s playing is highly virtuosic, yet witty and sensitive. Seldom is the vexing question of the balance between piano and string instruments so convincingly solved as here. The perceptiveness of the three musicians is enhanced by the fine recording technique.”
Klassik Heute

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Beethoven: Complete Piano Trios volume 4/Florestan Trio

(Hyperion CDA67466)

CD artwork“With the Florestan Trio’s fourth and last Hyperion CD of Beethoven’s complete piano trios you enter the Elysian Fields almost straight away … This Hyperion series has already been so rapturously received that the pleasures of this last disc come as no surprise. Even so, the performances’ freshness can still amaze.”
The Times

“A most welcome completion of a superb cycle.”
International Record Review

“This final instalment of the Florestan Trio’s complete Beethoven cycle is every bit as impressive as its predecessors … No one who’s been following this fine series need hesitate to acquire this very well recorded disc.”
BBC Music Magazine

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Mendelssohn: Piano Trios in D minor and C minor/Florestan Trio

(Hyperion CDA67485)

CD artworkChosen as one of the best discs of the year by the Sunday Times and the Daily Telegraph in December 2005.

“A truly stunning account. Over the years we’ve come to expect seamless ensemble, sweet-toned strings and crystal-clear, mercurial piano playing from the redoubtable Florestan Trio. All that is here, certainly, but even better is the emotional content: positively phenomenal, often building up to a volcanic passion that can sweep you away. Mendelssohn’s thrilling élan has rarely been more wonderfully evoked.”
Classic FM Magazine, October 2005 “Must Buy”

“The Florestan Trio were born to play Mendelssohn’s two piano trios. Like the composer, they never overegg the pudding or skate over delights too briskly. Light and crisp in attack, but reflective when necessary, they move through the music with fleetness, joy, and an ensemble spirit that never allows for any cracks. As soon as the D-minor Trio begins, were off on a magic journey in which piano, violin and cello for once appear equal participants. Susan Tomes’ rippling piano is lovely; but its scarcely less appropriate here than Anthony Marwood’s prancing violin or the deft weaving of Richard Lester’s cello. The C-minor Trio makes an ideal companion.”
The Times, 30th Sep 2005

“The Florestan’s progress through the piano-trio repertoire reaches a peak with these masterly performances.”
Sunday Times, 2nd Oct 2005

“A challenge in any performance is to prevent Mendelssohn’s brilliant piano writing from overpowering the strings. With her refined, limpid touch, Susan Tomes avoids such danger with ease. Her string colleagues match her in selfless give-and-take, and in the imagination of their phrasing (I have never heard such a magical violin descant when the D minors cello theme returns). In the Florestans hands the slow movements have a quality of innocence, while the allegros combine fire and lyrical grace, with the music surging impulsively across the barlines.”
Telegraph, 5th Nov 2005

“This is music that the Florestan Trio was born to play. Violinist Anthony Marwood’s silvery purity, Richard Lester’s rich-toned clarity throughout the cello’s range and Susan Tomes’s exquisite phrasal subtlety fit hand-in-glove with Mendelssohn’s rarefied sound world. Add to that atmospheric engineering of velvet-cushioned clarity and this really is something of a dream disc.”
The Strad, Nov 2005

“This wonderful issue begins in confiding mood, the plangent cello of Richard Lester opening up a discussion that Anthony Marwood takes up gratefully and which Susan Tomes underpins with discretion and interest. This is outstanding music-making, absorbing in its interplay, very expressive, and a real appreciation of Mendelssohn’s fluctuating emotions….What is so special is the musicians’ sensitivity and teamwork. Yet, two magical moments (out of many) belong to Susan Tomes, both occurring in the D minor work: her wonderfully unaffected introduction to the Andante and her sotto voce enunciation of the chorale when it returns as a sort of echo near the end. Decades on, Menahem Pressler at last has an equal at this poignant moment.”
www.classicalsource.com

“Susan Tomes is a brilliant Mendelssohn pianist, not only in her wonderfully fleeting, accurate fingerwork but in her understanding of the shape and colour of the music and of Mendelssohn’s cunning sense of formal direction in his often quite complicated structures.”
International Record Review, Nov 2005

“Nothing short of stunning. Susan Tomes manages the intricate piano parts’ considerable technical challenges, not only with dead-on precision, but also with exactly the right touch: clean and delicate, but never dry, and never overbalancing the strings…. This has to be one of the year’s top chamber releases. Enthusiastically recommended.”
Fanfare, USA

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Saint-Saens: Piano Trios/Florestan Trio

(Hyperion CDA67538)

CD artwork“The cover shows a Renoir painting, Path in a Wood , and since the Florestans are playing we know just where the path leads: towards bliss. Their light, nimble style finds a perfect match in Saint-Saëns’ youthful first piano trio, full of rustic charm; with these musicians there’s never a dull phrase. In the weightier second trio, the inspiration runs around in spots. But never underestimate this composer: the Florestans don’t. This CD can’t miss.”
The Times

“The Florestan’s rhythmic verve, subtle shading and luminous, sparkling textures (pianist Susan Tomes’s cascading fingerwork a constant delight) catch the trio’s spirit to perfection. A winner.”
The Daily Telegraph

“Well, the Florestan Trio have done it again – if this disc doesn’t at least win a Gramophone Award nomination, I’ll eat my hat. Indeed, such is the cumulative emotional impact of these performances that, I don’t mind admitting, I wept during the wonderful fortissimo climax of the E minor trio’s first movement – that even before the astonishing intensity of the final, precipitous Allegro … Recorded sound and accompanying notes are, of course, impeccable. No argument: just buy it.”
Gramophone

“Violinist Anthony Marwood and cellist Richard Lester are at their most expressively subtle and sweet-toned, floating phrases with a compelling memorability … Add to that Susan Tomes’s melt-in-the-mouth pianism – tonally ravishing, interpretatively magical – another exemplary Andrew Keener/Simon Eadon production and absorbing booklet notes from Robert Philip, and this one should literally fly off the shelves.”
International Record Review

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Mozart: Piano Trios K502, 542, 564/Florestan

(Hyperion CDA67556)

CD artwork“Susan Tomes’s sprightly piano is in its element, leading the dance in these three mature trios … Moods change at a flick of Mozart’s wrist, and Tomes, Anthony Marwood and Richard Lester have all the flexibility needed.”
The Times

“A delight … Its virtues, of course, were no surprise. Susan Tomes’ Mozartian credentials were richly established with her 2004 recording of the Piano Concertos K413-415 on Hyperion CDA67358 … Performances as fine as anything ever released of these enchanting works. She is a pianist, and artist, of the front rank.”
Piano Magazine

“The Florestan Trio, with pianist Susan Tomes at her moist beguiling, give a scintillating account of three mature Mozart piano trios on this disc … Whatever the technical intensity of the constituent roles Mozart demands of them, Antony Marwood and Richard Lester are well aware of how to make the best of their contributions. This is musical team-work of a very high order.”
The Magazine of the Cambridge Society

“Susan Tomes is an unsurpassable stylist, and she finds an ideal way to translate Mozart’s conceptions for modern piano, with immaculate tone, touch and phrasing, well supported by her colleagues, and with her perfectly set up Steinway balanced with the strings by Simon Eadon at Henry Wood Hall, that oasis of calm close to South London’s heavy traffic.”
www.musicalpointers.co.uk

“Languishing in the shadows of his more ambitious chamber music, Mozart’s trios repay careful listening, especially in performances as accomplished as these by the lively, alert Florestan Trio. The delicate keyboard playing of Susan Tomes in K.502 (written in 1786) shows how the composer moved on from keyboard sonatas with string accompaniment to beautifully balanced partnerships between all three instruments. Perhaps the finest of the three pieces is the exquisite K.452, but even the lesser K.564 comes to glittering life in these loving hands.”
The Observer, 23rd Jul 2006

“Here is domestic music-making of shared joys benefiting from superb recorded sound. Susan Tomes is as elegant a Mozartian as one could wish for.”
Classic FM magazine, Oct 2006

“Susan Tomes’s stylish pianism is unimpeachable. Her round, fruity clarity in passagework and trills is a Mozartian’s dream.”
Pianist magazine, Dec 2006

“A delight …. Its virtues, of course, were no surprise. As well as being the pianist of the Florestan Trio, Susan Tomes is also part of the Gaudier Ensemble with whom she recorded one of the most entrancing discs of Beethoven’s chamber music ever issued. In both the Clarinet Trio and the Quintet for Piano and Wind she turns in performances as fine as anything ever released of these enchanting works. She is a pianist and artist of the front rank.”
Piano Magazine, Jan/Feb 2007

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Mozart: Piano Trios K548, K254, K496/Florestan Trio

(Hyperion CDA67609)

CD artwork“The Florestan Trio get it exactly right, with Susan Tomes’ exquisite pianisim perfectly supported by violinist Anthony Marwood’s lithe, highly articulate playing and cellist Richard Lester’s finely judged asides. Another winner from this wonderful ensemble.”
Classic FM Magazine

“With their close and subtle rapport, the Florestan relish the music’s badinage and dramatic imbroglios. They have a knack, too, for sensing opportunities for interplay in the simplest theme-plus-accompaniment texture … the sensitive, quick-witted Florestan now take the palm.”
The Daily Telegraph

“This is a reference recording! How joyful, the sparkling flair of this new release. Hyperion has once more amazed us in offering a sample of exquisite musicianship, combined with a vividly engineered sounds. richly detailed and ideally suited for Mozart’s sensitive scoring. Ensemble work is flawless, and intonation is no problem whatsoever. All three musicians are constantly looking for an original yet thoughtful approach to the score, and they succeed extremely well in doing so. I can’t wait to hear their next contribution.”
Fanfare, USA

“These performances are inventive, spontaneous, expressive. They bring a singing quality to the melodies and a real grasp of structure … There is a real sense of occasion, of something important happening.”
American Record Guide

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Dvorak: Piano Trios in G minor and B flat/Florestan Trio

(Hyperion CDA67572)

CD artwork“Enchantment strikes straight away. There’s that clean freshness and bounce, the trio’s trademark. There’s Dvorák himself, strongly lyrical and folksy at the start of his Op 21 Piano Trio. The players balance one another: Richard Lester’s cradling cello, Anthony Marwood’s emotionally generous violin, Susan Tomes’s energising piano. Dvorák’s Op 26 trio – subtler, more thoughtful – is a neat contrast. The usual excellent Hyperion recording.”
The Times

“The Florestan are wonderfully sympathetic interpreters, catching the music’s youthful freshness and ardour with no false rhetoric. They take care to keep the textures uncluttered, phrase with a natural expressiveness, and show an idiomatic feel for the dance rhythms that pervade these trios. Both slow movements are intensely moving, with soft playing of rare intensity and subtlety, while the allegretto intermezzo in No 1 is deliciously airy. The yearning Elegy by Dvorak’s son-in-law, Josef Suk, makes a welcome and touching bonus.”
Daily Telegraph

“The Florestan Trio bring exactly the right kind of interpretative vitality and insight to the table, rejoicing in the music’s exuberant dance rhythms and melodic fecundity while ensuring that the various ideas flow into one another with compelling inevitability … The Florestan are now clear leaders in the Dvorák piano trio stakes.”
International Record Review

“The Florestan Trio is superb in these works, playing with energy and lyricism, tough in the more dramatic sections, warm when warmth is needed. The material is blessed with well-balanced, vibrant engineering that helps make this disc an attractive introduction to a neglected corner of Dvorák’s output.”
The Absolute Sound, USA

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Brahms: Complete Chamber Music (box set) including the complete piano trios played by the Florestan Trio

(Hyperion CDS44331/42)

CD artwork“Immerse yourself in this set of 12 CDs of Brahms’s chamber music … In the last 25 years, Hyperion has managed to persuade some of the finest of chamber musicians to reveal their affection for Brahms in recordings of remarkably consistent quality … Altogether life affirming music in life enhancing performances: surely one of the best buys of the year?”
BBC Music Magazine

“This magnificent 12-CD collection …… The Florestan Trio is movingly intense in the piano trios … A superb bargain.”
Classic FM Magazine

“The pick of this crop has to be Brahms’s Complete Chamber Music from Hyperion. Spanning more than two decades, this box contains the finest, mainly British, performances… Brahms’s two dozen chamber works are among his greatest achievements, and yield little or nothing in quality to the better known output of Mozart and Beethoven. This box contains much buried treasure.”
Mail on Sunday

“Stellar artists, fine sound, splendid presentation. Superb!”
ClassicalSource.com

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Haydn: Piano Trios volume 1/Florestan Trio

(Hyperion CDA67719)

CD artwork“These performances, led by pianist Susan Tomes, are the finest I have heard on modern instruments, and the recording quality is a model of instrumental balance.”
Dominion Post, New Zealand, Apr 2009

“The articulation of Susan Tomes and her colleagues is alert and imaginative, with a ‘period-instrument’ feel for texture, effortlessly capturing Haydn’s mercurial wit.”
Sunday Times

“Tomes and her partners identify themselves fully with the emotional scale of the works … There is so much from the Florestan to stop us in our tracks … a very special disc, recorded in detailed, front-row sound.”
Gramophone

“These are altogether lively and alert performances, with repeats imaginatively varied, and a real feel for the subtle balance of the music.”
BBC Music Magazine

“Four of Haydn’s later trios, including the familiar ‘Gypsy Rondo’, are played here by the Florestan Trio with a captivating grace.”
The Observer

“The Florestan is the ultimate in gentility and grace… the playing, interpretation, and recorded sound are perfection; every note, every phrase, every balance is beyond criticism.”
Fanfare, USA

“It would be hard to find crisper performances of Haydn’s piano trios. The Florestan Trio is not a period instrument ensemble, but it never makes us wish it were, for these musicians don’t play Haydn as if it were Beethoven or Schubert. The interpretations are articulate, stylish and vivid; accents spit and tingle; and passagework whizzes sharp and serrated as a saw blade. They take risks: Some fast movements move at blistering speeds, and the exaggerated upbeats and shifts in tempo make their free-wheeling Gypsy Rondo sound like the real thing. Slow movements sing, and the balance – so crucial in these trios – is heavenly.”
Canada Globe & Mail

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Haydn: Piano Trios volume 2/Florestan Trio

(Hyperion CDA67757)

CD artwork

“Outstanding. Haydn would doubtless have thought well of Susan Tomes’s quick wit and dexterity with the challenges presented by the E major trio…. This is all brilliant ensemble playing by thoughtful and enthusiastic as well as skilful performers.”
International Record Review, Oct 09

“Susan Tomes is superb in these works; her fluid pianism is a joy to hear, beautiful in tone, crisp in articulation. Violinist Anthony Marwood and cellist Richard Lester are on her level, and the tightly knit ensemble delivers a full, rich sound along with lightning-fast reactions to Haydn’s many twists and turns.”
La Folia, USA. Nov 09

“I can’t remember a disc of more good, serious fun than the envoi to Haydn Year from the Florestan Trio. …Not a phrase is left to chance. It’s a disc full of bushes and briars, and the cold fresh wind of sense on a sunny winter morning.”
Gramophone, December 09, Critics’ Choices of the Year

The Florestan Trio with Susan Tomes on piano plays this music with an exemplary delicacy of touch and an astonishing ability to vary its dynamics as if it were an intimate conversation. Tomes has a feathery touch that can assume a gossamer lightness while never attenuating the forcefulness with which Haydn punctuates phrases. This lets the music breathe with a naturalness that is the very essence of Haydn’s artistry.
Audiophile Audition (USA) Mar 2010

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Comments about Susan Tomes in critics’ overviews:

“A key element in Domus recordings is pianist Susan Tomes, her playing always magnetic and concentrated whatever the repertory; a rare gift which she consistently employs not for her own glorification, but in the cause of corporate music-making. After 15 years with Domus, Susan Tomes was the key figure in the formation in 1995 of The Florestan Trio.”
Gramophone magazine, Nov 2000

“The pianist, Susan Tomes, is the linchpin of the group, having been pianist of the group Domus since its inception in the 80s; her playing is marked by complete authority and a rich sound that never overpowers the strings, as well as stylish, expressive musicianship.”
Fanfare, USA, Jan/Feb 2001

“…La pianiste Susan Tomes, dont l’infinie subtilité de touche et les relances pertinentes ne sont pas sans rappeler le grand Menahem Pressler du Beaux-Arts Trio. Quand ce dernier partira à la retraite et si ses partenaires Daniel Hope et Antonio Meneses décident de poursuivre l’aventure, voici une digne héritière de la charge!”
classicstodayfrance.com

“Susan Tomes is one of the brightest jewels in Britain’s cultural crown.”
Piano magazine, 2004

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