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Ravel, Shostakovich, Ives: Piano Trios / Triple Forte

Ravel / Triple Forte / Wood / Dyachkov / Jalbert
Release Date: 08/28/2012 
Label:  Atma Classique   Catalog #: 22633  
Composer:  Maurice RavelDmitri ShostakovichCharles Ives
Performer:  David JalbertJasper WoodYegor Dyachkov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Triple Forte
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

RAVEL Piano Trio. SHOSTAKOVICH Piano Trio No. 1. IVES Piano Trio Triple Forte ATMA ACD2 2633 (61:27)

You have to love the name these Canadian musicians came up with for their piano trio ensemble, Triple Forte. Jasper Wood, Yegor Dyachkov, and David Jalbert are three not-so-young-appearing players here making their recorded debut with this somewhat unconventional program of piano Read more trios.

Shostakovich’s Piano Trio in C Minor is a student work, written in 1923 when the composer was 17. The story has it that he was love-struck by a young lady named Tatyana Glivenko and, in his state of adolescent hormonal passion, he penned a romantic love poem to her in the form of this trio. One wouldn’t necessarily recognize the piece as being by Shostakovich, though there are already hints of what was to come, for example, in the rhythmic ostinatos that open this one-movement, 13-minute work.

Charles Ives’s Piano Trio is also an early opus, initially completed in 1911 and then substantially revised three years later. Shades of Erik Satie’s 1893 Vexations echo in the first movement. Here, Ives subjects the French composer’s idea of literal repetition to a Webernesque treatment, giving us the same 27 measures only three times instead of Satie’s 840, and with his own personal twist. The violin doesn’t play the first time through, the cello drops out the second time, and finally, all three instruments join in for the third chorus. If the piece had been written by John Cage, there probably would have been a fourth iteration in which no one played.

The second movement, a scherzo, is marked “TSIAJ,” for “This Scherzo Is A Joke,” which I’m sure Ives realized was redundant, but it contains the kind of writing for which he earned his well-deserved reputation as a true American iconoclast. The movement is a six-minute polytonal riot of college frat songs and fragments from American folk songs of which a partial inventory includes: A Band of Brothers in DKE, The Campbells Are Comin’, Marching Through Georgia, My Old Kentucky Home, Pig Town Fling, Sweet By and By, Long, Long Ago, Hold the Fort , and There is a Fountain Filled with Blood . The finale is not entirely free of quotations either— Rock of Ages makes an appearance—but for the most part the last movement is more lyrical and of a more serious tone.

Of the three trios on the disc, the Ravel is the most widely recorded. In fact, I just put my name to another review of the piece in a live performance taken from the 2011 Heimbach Spannungen Festival. Triple Forte’s essaying of the score strikes me as rather more sensitive to Ravel’s idiom than was the Heimbach performance. On a technical level, Triple Forte’s execution is not necessarily better, but the players are more caressing of the music’s curvaceous contours and more adept at highlighting its subtle colors.

In the Ives trio, however, capable as Triple Forte is in navigating the score’s complex polyrhythms and other technical hurdles, the ensemble doesn’t quite convey the uninhibited, if not unhinged, eccentricity of the thing. Though he came half a century later, Ives is rather like a reborn musical version of Walt Whitman. Listening to Ives’s trio, one pictures the composer throwing off his clothes and running naked through the Connecticut woods. No recording of the piece I’ve heard quite captures that sense of liberation like the one with Ronan Lefkowitz, Yo-Yo Ma, and Gilbert Kalish on a 1993 Sony CD. Still, this is an auspicious beginning for the Triple Forte Trio, and one that should bode well for its future on disc. Recommended.

FANFARE: Jerry Dubins    
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Works on This Recording

Trio for Piano, Violin and Cello in A minor by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  David Jalbert (Piano), Jasper Wood (Violin), Yegor Dyachkov (Cello)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Triple Forte
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914; France 
Trio for Piano and Strings no 1 in C minor, Op. 8 by Dmitri Shostakovich
Performer:  Yegor Dyachkov (Cello), Jasper Wood (Violin), David Jalbert (Piano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Triple Forte
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1923; USSR 
Trio for Piano, Violin and Cello by Charles Ives
Performer:  Yegor Dyachkov (Cello), Jasper Wood (Violin), David Jalbert (Piano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Triple Forte
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1904-1911; USA 

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