Notes and Editorial Reviews
ROMANTIC PIANO TRIOS
Tr Anima Mundi
DIVINE ART 25102 (2 CDs: 83:46)
Piano Trio in G.
Piano Trio in a.
Piano Trio No. 1
Here is a highly attractive quartet of early 20th-century piano trios, all written in a
Romantic vein, by little-known composers from four countries: England, Australia, France, and Sweden. None of these works is identified as a world premiere recording, but I find no others for the Hyde and d’Ollone trios.
Arthur Lintgen didn’t think much of William Hurlstone’s music, including this Trio, in his assessment of an all-Hurlstone disc (
31:5, May/June 2008), but I beg to differ. The opening sweeps in with a richly Romantic, memorable theme that sounds like it could have come from a lost work of Brahms. The second theme too is highly appealing and the subject of much interesting development. The entire first movement never flags in its momentum and provides a continuous sonic bath of sumptuous sound. The remaining three movements are not quite on the same level of inspiration, but there’s still plenty to admire.
Long-lived Miriam Hyde, one of the pioneering composers in Australia, was born the year
Le Sacre du printemps
was premiered and died 92 years later, but “it was Hyde’s intention that her compositions be a refuge of peace and beauty … [she] remained to the end of her life within a pastoral, romantic genre,” writes Rosalind Appleby in her volume about Australian composers,
Women of Note
. Hyde’s single-movement
is hardly pastoral, but it is certainly Romantic, densely-textured and warmly melodic in the manner of Tchaikovsky or Brahms.
Max d’Ollone (Maximilien-Paul-Marie-Félix d’Ollone, to give him his full name) is a new one to me, but on the basis of his Piano Trio I’m going to be on the lookout for more of his music. The opening grabs you immediately—a powerful, wide-reaching subject that pervades the entire four-movement structure in many guises. The cyclic element isn’t the only reminder of Franck. The harmony too brings the older, better-known figure to mind. The slow movement in particular glows and throbs with an inner light suggestive of religious fervor and transcendent spirituality. The Finale races along in tarantella rhythm to a surprise ending.
Probably the least-unknown of these four composers to most
readers is Dag Wirén. The stand-out movement here is the first, filled with relentless energy and intricate intertwining of the three instrumental lines. Following a somewhat discordant yet rhythmically vital opening we encounter a mournful, Eastern-European influenced folk tune of haunting beauty. The third movement is a one-minute
of sparkling delicacy, while the Finale provides near-virtuosic writing for the piano in its highly energized writing. That quasi-folk tune from the first movement makes reappearances in later movements, conferring further unity on this fine work.
Trio Anima Mundi is a Melbourne-based ensemble in existence since 2008. The two string players—violinist Rochelle Ughetti and cellist Miranda Brockman—are or were members of the Melbourne Symphony, and pianist Kenji Fujimura is a well-established, award-winning teacher and composer as well. He also provided the exemplary program notes, essential to an undertaking of this sort. Individually they are all highly accomplished artists; collectively they make a tightly-knit and musically unified team. Brockman’s cello playing in particular I find mesmerizing; it reminds me of Jacqueline du Pré for her big, swashbuckling sound and passionate intensity.
The total timing of nearly 84 minutes means spreading the music over two discs, but the product is priced as a single. The acoustic setting is full and spacious, and serves the musicians well as they all have highly appealing sounds. Whether or not you are on the lookout for something new and different, this release is a top recommendation.
FANFARE: Robert Markow
Works on This Recording
Trio for Piano and Strings in G major by William Yeates Hurlstone
Trio Anima Mundi
Venue: Music Auditorium, Sir Zelman Cowen Schoo
Length: 28 Minutes 11 Secs.
Piano Trio in G Major: I. Allegro moderato
Piano Trio in G Major: II. Andante
Piano Trio in G Major: III. Molto vivace
Piano Trio in G Major: IV. Allegro comodo
Fantasy-Trio in B Minor, Op. 10
Piano Trio in A minor: I. Allegro ma non troppo e ben deciso
Piano Trio in A minor: II. Adagio
Piano Trio in A minor: III. Scherzo: Allegro
Piano Trio in A minor: IV. Finale: Presto
Piano Trio No. 1, Op. 6: I. Allegro
Piano Trio No. 1, Op. 6: II. Adagio
Piano Trio No. 1, Op. 6: III. Fughetta
Piano Trio No. 1, Op. 6: IV. Alla passacaglia
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