Notes and Editorial Reviews
Piano Trio in g
Die Zelle in Nonnenwerth.
Elegies: No. 1;
La Lugubre Gondole
Vincent Coq (pn);
Jean-Marc Phillips-Varjabédian (vn);
Raphaël Pidoux (vc)
HARMONIA MUNDI 902060 (72:33)
Another winner to add to the Trio Wanderer’s list of great recordings for this label. Their performance of the Smetana G Minor is quite simply stunning, both in technical accomplishment and in their total identification with the music’s extreme emotional world, improvisatory spirit, nationalistic idioms, and Brahmsian richness of musical invention. Their response to the extraordinary opening paragraph is astonishing in its sheer sustained vehemence, piling layer upon layer of grief. No less impressive is their entrance into the second theme’s world of tender reverie, with its gradual animation to galloping exaltation by the end of the exposition. In the central Scherzo (or scherzo-substitute—there’s nothing very playful about this dark, pensive affair) they are equally effective in projecting the eerie nocturnal unease of the recurring refrain and the powerful reflective atmosphere of the two contrasting Trios: wistful nostalgia in the harmonically rich, complex first one; saturated nobility in the second. The final Presto has a vise-like grip, taking off as if pursued by the hounds of hell. But they also project with equal intensity the almost unbearable aching beauty of the contrasting theme’s elegiac falling sequences (violin and cello, against the piano’s Lisztian improvisatory flourishes). I’m not familiar with any other recent recordings, but the classic Beaux Arts (Philips, 1970) is more self-contained, urbane, with an aristocratic reserve; the old Oistrakh Trio (Westminster/DG, 1950s) slower, heavier, more soloistic (violin-dominated) in treatment. The Trio Wanderer is now easily my preferred version.
has a complex genesis, as the composer’s own expanded reworking of another composer (the Dane Edward Lassen)’s piano trio arrangement of his
. It’s very effective in this guise, and the performance has superb atmosphere, concentration, and total idiomatic command. The improvisatory interchanges of the recitative-style middle section are hurled back and forth with tremendous panache, and the final ecstatic E-Major buildup really ignites. The shorter pieces are all original Liszt arrangements, solo string-instrument-and-piano incarnations of pieces existing in multiple versions. They’re all musically very substantial and harmonically adventurous (I’m no Liszt specialist, and the only one that was really familiar to me is the often-played
). The performances sound ideal, sinuous and powerfully atmospheric.
The recording is forwardly balanced, outstanding in its solidity and immediacy. This is a tremendous disc, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
FANFARE: Boyd Pomeroy
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