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Rachmaninov: Piano Trios / Ashkenazy, Visontay, Lidstrom


Release Date: 09/17/2013 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 001903402   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Sergei Rachmaninov
Performer:  Zsolt-Tihamér VistonayVladimir AshkenazyMats Lidstrom
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



RACHMANINOFF Trios élégiaques Nos 1 and 2. Vocalise. Dream, op. 38/5 Vladimir Ashkenazy (pn); Zsolt-Tihamer Visontay (vn); Mats Lidström (vc) DECCA 4785346 (69:20)


With this recording, according to Decca, Vladimir Ashkenazy “concludes his recordings of Rachmaninov’s works for piano.” That’s solo piano music, concertos, songs, chamber music—everything that includes the piano. It turns out that Read more “concludes” isn’t precisely the same as “completes,” though: Ashkenazy apparently has not recorded the Two Pieces for Violin and Piano, op. 6. These rarities would have fitted on this CD, even with the two fillers included here, so their omission is something of a mystery.


Actually, Ashkenazy has recorded both less and more than Rachmaninoff’s complete music for piano; if you include his recordings as conductor for Decca and Exton, he has actually committed to disc the complete Rachmaninoff canon, excepting the unaccompanied choral works and the operas—and those two pieces for violin.


Rachmaninoff’s G-Minor First Trio, in one movement, is an early work dating from 1892, and is perhaps a bit ingenuous; the D-Minor Second, written only a year later, in response to the death of Tchaikovsky, is rather overwrought but is more mature. This piece is written in Rachmaninoff’s favorite key (First Symphony, Third Concerto, First Piano Sonata, Corelli Variations ). It is a large-scaled work patterned after Tchaikovsky’s own trio, complete with second-movement variations and a linked finale featuring a cyclic return of the first movement’s main theme. Even the theme of the variation movement makes direct reference to Tchaikovsky’s. This recording of the two piano trios is, I’m happy to report, far more reminiscent of the Ashkenazy who recorded the bulk of Rachmaninoff’s solo piano music so compellingly in the 1970s and 80s than the one who more recently seemed disengaged in the Morceaux de salon , op. 10 (reviewed elsewhere in this issue) and the First Piano Sonata ( Fanfare 35:6). These are committed performances; Ashkenazy responds effectively to Rachmaninoff’s difficult but idiomatic piano writing, and he and his colleagues seem to know that the only way to pull off this music is to play it “all-in.” Violinist Zsolt-Tihamer Visontay and cellist Mats Lidström play admirably, but make no mistake, this is Ashkenazy’s show.


The encores are Rachmaninoff’s popular Vocalise , played by Visontay and Ashkenazy in its original key of C? Minor rather than E Minor as in the composer’s own transcription, and the song Dream , directly transcribed by Lidström for cello and piano and played entirely on the A-string. The former sounds darker than usual in the lower key, and is given an unsentimental reading; the latter especially loses something in the transition from voice to instrument. I would gladly have traded these two for the op. 6 violin pieces, of which there are only a handful of recordings. Still, the raison d’être for this CD is the trios. In the D-Minor Trio Ashkenazy and his colleagues, like Valeri Grohovski, Eduard Wulfson, and Dmitry Yablonsky on an excellent Naxos CD, play the complete 1907 version. I’m not ready to give away that disc, but it’s good to have this new one.


FANFARE: Richard A. Kaplan
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Works on This Recording

1.
Trio for Piano and Strings no 2 in D minor, Op. 9 "Trio élégiaque" by Sergei Rachmaninov
Performer:  Zsolt-Tihamér Vistonay (Violin), Vladimir Ashkenazy (Piano), Mats Lidstrom (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Russia 
2.
Trio for Piano and Strings no 1 in G minor "Trio élégiaque" by Sergei Rachmaninov
Performer:  Zsolt-Tihamér Vistonay (Violin), Vladimir Ashkenazy (Piano), Mats Lidstrom (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892; Russia 
3.
Songs (14), Op. 34: no 14, Vocalise by Sergei Rachmaninov
Performer:  Zsolt-Tihamér Vistonay (Violin), Vladimir Ashkenazy (Piano), Mats Lidstrom (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1912-1915; Russia 
4.
Songs (6), Op. 38: no 5, A dream by Sergei Rachmaninov
Performer:  Zsolt-Tihamér Vistonay (Violin), Vladimir Ashkenazy (Piano), Mats Lidstrom (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1916; Russia 

Sound Samples

Trio Elégiaque No.1 in G Minor
Trio élégiaque No.2 in D minor, Op.9 for Piano, Violin and Cello: 1. Moderato - Allegro vivace
Trio élégiaque No.2 in D minor, Op.9 for Piano, Violin and Cello: 2. Quasi variazione
Trio élégiaque No.2 in D minor, Op.9 for Piano, Violin and Cello: 3. Allegro risoluto
Vocalise, Op.34, No.14
Dream (Son), Op.38, No.5

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