Notes and Editorial Reviews
Piano Trios: No. 1; No. 2
Emmanuel Ax (pn); Itzhak Perlman (vn); Yo-Yo Ma (vc)
SONY 88697 53193 3 (59:46)
This disc is my eighth
review of these Mendelssohn trios, starting back at 31:3 and continuing from 33:3 to the present issue. The first six reviews, favorable or not, were of “standard” ensembles. This ensemble is non-standard in the sense that it is composed of three independent artists—all famed soloists of the highest
caliber—rather than a group dedicated to piano trio performances. This “pick-up” group is reminiscent of the Heifetz-Feuermann-Rubinstein and Cortot-Thibaud-Casals Trios of yore. The Istomin-Stern-Rose Trio of the recent past splits the difference of eras.
In a previous review, I wrote, referring to two performances, “[These discs] provide the proverbial truth and beauty of these Mendelssohn trios, at least for now. Something new and better is always possible in the future.” Well, the future has arrived, and sooner than I imagined. Ax, Perlman, and Ma provide ensemble balance, clarity of inner part-writing, drama, lyricism, and phrase shaping of the highest order, almost unimaginably so. These performances have now become my present benchmarks, supplanting my D-Minor (No. 1) Istomin-Stern-Rose Trio benchmark. Even more important is the observation that these artists have said something new, interesting, and relevant in terms of phrasing and dynamics of these trios.
Ax, Perlman, and Ma first performed these trios as a group at Carnegie Hall in March 2009, and then during a
Live from Lincoln Center
telecast in February 2010. The present studio recording is the result of the success of these previous accounts. Ax and Ma have collaborated in the past (e.g., the Beethoven piano and cello sonatas), but this is the first time Perlman has joined them in a recording.
This disc will make my Want List for 2010. The disc has even suggested a Dream List: Ax/Perlman/Ma Beethoven trios, Schubert trios, and Brahms trios. To go further, Ax/Perlman/Ma/violist (perhaps Zukerman, or Kashkashian, or Laredo) Mozart piano quartets and Brahms Piano Quartets. The Brahms, however, might produce a conflict with a previous Sony issue.
After writing all this, I let my enthusiasm cool for a couple of weeks, and then I listened again. These trios sounded even better. I find these performances not just outstanding; I find them astounding.
Get this CD with due haste! Without this disc you will miss one of the greatest musical experiences available. Thank you, Messrs. Ax, Perlman, and Ma! And thank you, Sony!
FANFARE: Burton Rothleder
Works on This Recording
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