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Ravel: Trio; Faure: Trio; Debussy: Violin Sonata; Cello Sonata

Ravel / Shaham / Erez / Wallfisch
Release Date: 10/08/2013 
Label:  Nimbus   Catalog #: 5905   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Claude DebussyGabriel FauréMaurice Ravel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Trio Shaham Erez Wallfisch (Piano Trio)
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 13 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

RAVEL Piano Trio. DEBUSSY Cello Sonata. Violin Sonata. FAURÉ Piano Trio Tr Shaham Erez Wallfisch NIMBUS 5905 (72:38)

Though this trio came together as a group only in 2009, Hagai Shaham, violin, and Arnon Erez, piano, have performed often together, and Raphael Wallfisch is no stranger at all to the cello world or these pages. Their CD of Mendelssohn trios (Nimbus) was well Read more received by Daniel Morrison in 36:2, and here we have two more trios and two sonatas at the center of the modern repertory.

Ravel was long unsure about his Trio: It was finished just as France entered the First World War and first performed in Paris in January 1915. Indeed, he may not even have been able to attend that performance, nor read the proofs of Durand’s subsequent edition of that year. That that edition had many errors in it has been amply demonstrated by Richard Dowling, who has produced the edition recorded here.

Arnon Erez is a sensitive and evocative pianist, and Raphael Wallfisch plays the cello’s part as one born to it. Hagai Shaham’s violin has a slightly narrow sound here, however, which does not quite match Wallfisch’s more generous tone. Now, I think this may be in part due to the recording, because in the Debussy Violin Sonata, where the sonic ambience differs, the sound is fine. There are many recordings of Ravel’s Trio, and many good ones. In 37:1, Jerry Dubins particularly liked that by the Ibuki Trio. I haven’t heard that one, but this one has a lot going for it, and I am pleased to have heard it. I particularly liked the third movement, a moody passacaille, in which they play as one mind.

The Debussy sonatas here are two of the three that were finished for a proposed set of six, the last of which would gather all the instruments. The Cello Sonata (1915) is the first piece Debussy actually called a “sonata.” Its first performance took place in London the following year. Here, Wallfisch’s burnished sound is a real pleasure, and the two of them capture the manic atmosphere of the second movement, and the virtuosic third is done with great brio.

The Violin Sonata came in 1917, the year before Debussy’s death. There is an uneasiness, almost an unsettledness, to Debussy’s writing in this Sonata, and Shaham and Erez capture that slightly nervous quality well. As I noted above, there is a different ambience in this recording: The space is drier and the violin seems closer to us than in the Trio. This allows us to hear the greater nuances Shaham brings to the piece.

Fauré’s Trio was the next to the last thing he wrote. In declining health, it took him two years, being first performed on his 78th birthday in 1924, a performance he was too ill to attend. It’s a wonderful piece, full of color and life, and is reflective, too, of the songs of the period, especially in its second movement. It is, in fact, just in this movement that I am less happy with Erez’s otherwise integrated accompaniment, which here does not match the legato of the other two.

With the two, marginal, performance matters noted, I still welcome this recording. I also welcome Calum MacDonald’s excellent and full annotations.

FANFARE: Alan Swanson
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Works on This Recording

Sonata for Cello and Piano by Claude Debussy
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Trio Shaham Erez Wallfisch (Piano Trio)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1915; France 
Venue:  Monmouth, UK 
Length: 11 Minutes 17 Secs. 
Sonata for Violin and Piano in G minor by Claude Debussy
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Trio Shaham Erez Wallfisch (Piano Trio)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1916-1917; France 
Venue:  Monmouth, UK 
Length: 13 Minutes 34 Secs. 
Trio for Piano and Strings in D minor, Op. 120 by Gabriel Fauré
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Trio Shaham Erez Wallfisch (Piano Trio)
Period: Romantic 
Written: France 
Venue:  Monmouth, UK 
Length: 20 Minutes 36 Secs. 
Trio for Piano, Violin and Cello in A minor by Maurice Ravel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Trio Shaham Erez Wallfisch (Piano Trio)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914; France 
Venue:  Monmouth, UK 
Length: 26 Minutes 38 Secs. 

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