Notes and Editorial Reviews
Trio for Flute, Cello, and Piano.
Trio for Flute, Cello, and Piano
Walter Auer (fl); Jörgen Fog (vc); Yoko Fog-Urata (pn)
CAMERATA 28220 (67: 56)
This is an absolutely lovely album of chamber music. Walter Auer serves as principal flute of the Vienna Philharmonic, and performs with all the distinction that position implies. Cellist
Jörgen Fog also is a member of the orchestra, and with his wife, the Tokyo-born, Vienna-trained pianist Yoko Fog-Urata, was a founding member of the Vienna Piano Quintet. This trio thus consists of very experienced chamber musicians, who provide the feeling of having performed for their own pleasure many times before assembling to record this album. Indeed, their performance style is very much that of people playing in a small room for themselves, rather than projecting their sound out to an audience. The excellent sound engineering conveys this feeling, too, with a warm tone and a fine blend of the instruments, just lacking the sense of air around the instruments that would connote a concert hall instead of a private occasion. Everything about this album indicates great care for the music and each of its participants, musical and technical. Absorbing it is, a richly rewarding experience.
The main work is Chopin’s piano trio, with the violin part adapted by Auer for flute. Having another instrument take over a violin part would have been common practice in Chopin’s time, and as the trio is written in the prevailing
, the music sounds very natural on the flute. Chopin composed the trio in his teens while a student at the Warsaw Conservatory. It demonstrates his complete, early mastery. The piano surprisingly does not dominate, but is frequently in the position of accompanying the other instruments—which Yoko does superbly. Using a Bösendorfer, with its mellow tone and soft attack, helps the blend of the trio. Fog plays with a chocolaty and lyrical sound typical of the Vienna Philharmonic’s cellists. As for the music, the scherzo is infused with Chopin’s typical warmth instead of archness. The slow movement foreshadows his nocturnes, with more than a hint of John Field. Here the players produce a winning legato. The finale offers the kind of soulful, virtuoso piano writing that soon would mark the last movements of Chopin’s concertos.
Jean Françaix’s trio was written in 1995, when the composer was in his 80s. Like the 85-year-old Ralph Vaughan Williams’s Ninth Symphony, the trio is a skillful distillation of the composer’s style, while remaining forward-looking. The work still has the mark of a French composer who came to prominence between the World Wars, as it is filled with wit, subtlety, and warmth. The elegant flute writing seems to be part of the DNA of the French school, and Auer projects it appealingly. Françaix’s slow movement sounds like a graceful acceptance of the wisdom and pathos of old age. His scherzando is worldly rather than jesting. The last movement represents a highly experienced composer at play.
Yoko studied piano in Vienna with Josef Dichler, who was primarily known as a teacher of that instrument, although he studied composition with Franz Schmidt. His trio was written in 1968, when Dichler was in his mid-50s. Though marked
, the first movement offers the flutist playing with a languorous echo of Debussy’s
Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun
. The music here is spare, with subtle gestures. When the movement comes to a close, the flute has the last word, as in the Debussy. The slow movement is dirgelike, sounding otherworldly with this combination of instruments. As Dichler has included the year 1968 in the trio’s title, one wonders if this movement constitutes a reflection on the political events of that time. The final two movements sound like café music, prefiguring Paul Schoenfield. In the last movement, one almost can envision the players surrounded by potted palms. Dichler’s trio is highly worthy of revival, and receives a fine performance. Thus ends a highly recommendable disc. It is worthy both for its novelty and its overall accomplishment. It is rare to find a recording project that succeeds so completely on every count.
FANFARE: Dave Saemann
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