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Piano Trios Of The 1920s / Kairos Trio

Release Date: 09/27/2005 
Label:  Musicaphon   Catalog #: 56872   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Dmitri ShostakovichErnest BlochAaron CoplandGaspar Cassadó,   ... 
Performer:  Bettina Barbara BertschChristiane BehnSolveigh Rose
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kairos Piano Trio
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

A fascinating collection, although the greatest piano trio of the 1920s, the one by Gabriel Fauré, is conspicuous by its absence. Fauré, however, was not a young composer searching for modernism after the shock of the First World War. That is the connecting idea behind this disc, as set out in the notes by cellist Bettina Barbara Bertsch, and it certainly applies to three of the works here. Shostakovich was 17 when he penned his Trio, op. 8; Martin and Copland, though older, were yet to find their mature compositional voices.

The young Shostakovich was flexing his stylistic muscles in this 13-minute, one movement Read more chamber work. The long-limbed melodic lines, the cheeky scherzandos, the widely-spaced textures are all there, but these elements are juxtaposed somewhat haphazardly and were yet to acquire the fine gradations of irony which the composer was later able to bring to them. The trio is very enjoyable on its own terms, and the Hamburg-based Trio Kairos make sensitive work of the sudden shifts of mood.

Frank Martin’s charming Trio on Irish Folk Melodies is atypical of him. It does not embrace the 12-tone system—although Martin’s dodecaphony was always based in tonality—nor does it exhibit the composer’s habitual fastidiousness. It was commissioned by an American chamber-music patron of Irish descent, but she was unimpressed by the obscure Irish tunes Martin chose and withdrew the commission. (If she wanted something light and folksy, she picked the wrong guy.) Copland’s story is the exact opposite: before he composed his “greatest hits,” he experimented with jazz influences and then with a stark, uncompromising modernism. Vitebsk , his study on a Jewish theme, comes from the latter period. Copland went on to write masterpieces in this style, such as the Piano Variations, but here the composer is at his least genial.

Unfamiliar with the works by Bloch and Cassadó, I was delighted to make their acquaintance. In 1924, when Bloch’s trio was completed, the composer was in his forties and very much a mature artist. His brief but substantial Nocturnes reveal the influence of the French impressionists in tremolo-writing for the piano and atmospheric string harmonics. These nocturnes have their tempestuous moments as well as their restful ones. Cassadó was a cellist with a considerable solo career. His trio deftly employs the melodic and harmonic traits of the Spanish style, not unlike the music of Turina (who also wrote distinguished piano trios).

The women of Trio Kairos are splendid musicians and make a tightly knit team. They are as intimate in the tone painting of Bloch as they are full-blooded in Cassadó’s grandiose statements. The recording itself is excellent. Another talented young group, the Trio Wanderer, couple the Shostakovich and Copland works with Shostakovich’s Second Piano Trio, op. 67, an indisputable masterpiece (Harmonia Mundi HMC 901825), but the combination of imaginative programming and committed performance means this disc is a winner.

FANFARE: Phillip Scott
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Works on This Recording

Trio for Piano and Strings no 1 in C minor, Op. 8 by Dmitri Shostakovich
Performer:  Bettina Barbara Bertsch (Cello), Christiane Behn (Piano), Solveigh Rose (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kairos Piano Trio
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1923; USSR 
Nocturnes (3) for Piano, Violin and Cello by Ernest Bloch
Performer:  Christiane Behn (Piano), Bettina Barbara Bertsch (Cello), Solveigh Rose (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kairos Piano Trio
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1924; USA 
Vitebsk by Aaron Copland
Performer:  Solveigh Rose (Violin), Bettina Barbara Bertsch (Cello), Christiane Behn (Piano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kairos Piano Trio
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1929; USA 
Trio for Piano and Strings in C major by Gaspar Cassadó
Performer:  Solveigh Rose (Violin), Christiane Behn (Piano), Bettina Barbara Bertsch (Cello)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kairos Piano Trio
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1926; Spain 
Trio sur des mélodies populaires irlandaises by Frank Martin
Performer:  Bettina Barbara Bertsch (Cello), Solveigh Rose (Violin), Christiane Behn (Piano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kairos Piano Trio
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1925; Switzerland 

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