The twice-Grammy-nominated Lincoln Trio ― violinist Desirée Ruhstrat, cellist David Cunliffe, and pianist Marta Aznavoorian ― offers engaging, rarely heard piano trios by 20th-century Chicago composers Leo Sowerby, winner of the Rome Prize and Pulitzer Prize for music, and Ernst Bacon, recipient of three Guggenheim Fellowships and a Pulitzer Fellowship. Bacon’s Trio No. 2 for Violin, Cello and Piano (1987) receives its world-premiere recording. Hailed by The New York Times as “a Composer Known for Echoing America,” Bacon infuses his six-movement trio with American influences including marches, folksong-like melodies, and jazz rhythms, validating Virgil Thomson’s assessment of Bacon’s music as “full of melody and variety; honest and skillful and beautiful.” Sowerby’s Trio for violin, violincello and pianoforte (1953) is “a work of tremendous integrity” that exhibits an “imposing structure, contrapuntal gymnastics, and a concern for instruments sounding as good as they can” (Classical Net). Sometimes virtuosic, sometimes reflective, the work is distinguished by an ever-evolving rhythmic and harmonic interplay between instruments.
The works heard here by the "Early Modern" native Chicago composers Ernst Bacon (1898-1990) and Leo Sowerby (1895-1968) have several stylistic commonalities between them: both rich in melodic zest, expressionist on the edge of Romanticism but further afield to the Modern in their arcs of harmonic-melodic movement, winding, and labyrinthian. Working together most impressively, the members of the Lincoln Trio approach both pieces with elan, zeal, and sympathy. If you are up for something well composed and well played, something from the recent past yet unmistakably belonging to that time, grab this and I think you’ll find it worthwhile.
– Gapplegate Classical