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     Piano Trios

Not That Franck

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Audite 97.487

Richard Franck
(1858-1938)

Piano Trio in B Minor, Op. 20 (1893)
Piano Trio in E Flat Major, Op. 32 (1900)

Christoph Schickedanz, violin
Thomas Blees, cello
Bernhard Fograscher, piano
Audite 97.487 62:57

Franck is one of a German musical family which boasts several interesting composers, including his father, Eduard. Despite their late nineteenth-century dates, these trios are strongly influenced by Schumann.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

Norwegian Melodies

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Simax PSC1226

Thomas Dyke Acland Tellefsen
(1823-1874)

Cello Sonata, Op. 21 (21:50)
Piano Trio, Op. 31 (32:58)
Violin Sonata #1, Op. 19 (26:10)

Einar Steen-Nokleberg, piano
Atle Sponberg, violin
Øysten Birkeland, cello
Simax PSC1226 80:58

Tellefsen was a Norwegian pianist and composer who came from a musical family in Trondheim. He later studied with Friedrich Kalkbrenner, and then with Frédéric Chopin. This relationship was pivotal and Tellefsen was strongly influenced by Chopin's music, eventually writing his own mazurkas and nocturnes for piano.

Tellefsen concertized all across Europe and was regarded as one of the outstanding pianists of his time; he was especially admired for his interpretations of Chopin's music. He is primarily remembered today for his piano music, though he wrote several chamber pieces, including the major works performed marvelously here (this is also the longest single CD I have ever encountered). Two more important compositions are the piano concertos, also available on CD (Simax PSC1232).

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic ]

A Musician of Varied Talents

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Toccata Classics TOCC0068

Donald Francis Tovey
(1875-1949)

Piano Trio in B minor, Op. 1
Piano Trio "Style Tragique" in C minor, Op. 8

London Piano Trio
Toccata Classics TOCC0068 65:06

These gorgeous Romantic piano trios are strongly influenced by Tovey's great love and deep understanding of the music of Johannes Brahms. They were both written in 1895, and the second trio, Op. 8 was originally for piano, clarinet and horn. This version for violin, cello and piano was published 1912.

Toccata Classics have produced two other recordings of the music of Tovey, and I look forward to more. The London Piano Trio (Robert Atchison, violin; Bzidar Vukotic, cello; Olga Dudnik, piano) play with warmth, energy and a rich, perfectly balanced sound.

Also available:
  Symphony in D Major, Op. 32, etc. (Toccata Classics TOCC0033)
  Cello Concerto, Op. 40, etc. (Toccata Classics TOCC0038)

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - Musicnotes.com ]

French Piano Trios

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Hyperion SACDA67114

Gabriel Fauré
(1845-1924)

Piano Trio in D minor, Op. 120 (1923)

Claude Debussy
(1862-1918)

Piano Trio in G Major (1879)

Maurice Ravel
(1875-1937)

Piano Trio in A minor (1914)

The Florestan Trio
Hyperion SACDA67114 Multichannel Hybrid SACD

The Fauré piano trio was written when the composer was 77, and it was his penultimate composition. The Debussy trio was written when the composer was still a teenager, and the Ravel trio was written in middle-age. As I listen to these works, however, I feel that their common musical language transcends time and space. The music is sweet, immediately accessible, and memorable. The three works also share a wistful mood in each of their slower movements.

The Debussy trio, rarely heard, is a special treat, and it was this piece that prompted the purchase of this disc. Although I have other performances of the Ravel and Fauré trios, I am very happy to have this disc, too, because the Florestan Trio (Anthony Marwood, violin; Richard Lester, cello; Susan Tomes, piano) perform all of these works with great intensity, verve, and delicacy.

[ Available on Multichannel Hybrid SACD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe
  Or on CD CDA67114: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

Dvořák in Prague - A Celebration

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Sony Classical SK46687

Antonín Dvořák
(1841-1904)

Carnival Overture, Op. 92
Humoresques, Op. 101 #1 & 7
Piano Trio "Dumka", Op. 90: Allegro
Slavonic Dances, Op. 72 #2 & 7
Romance in F Minor
   for Violin & Orchestra, Op. 11
Gypsy Melodies
   for Voice and Piano, Op. 55 #4 & 5
From the Bohemian Forest "Klid" (Silent
   Woods) for Cello & Orchestra, Op. 68 #5
Rusalka: "Mesicku na nebi hlubokem"
   (O Moon High up in the Deep Sky)
Psalm 149 "Sing unto the Lord a New Song"
   for Chorus & Orchestra, Op. 79

Rudolf Firkušný, piano
Yo Yo Ma, cello
Itzhak Perlman, violin
Frederica von Stade, soprano
Prague Philharmonic Chorus/Pavel Kühn
Boston Symphony Orchestra/Seiji Ozawa
Sony Classical SK46687 64:50

This compact disc is a companion to the television special broadcast from Prague (available on DVD) from December 1993. The performances are simply wonderful, but special mention should be made of Perlman's outstanding performance of the Romance in F minor for violin and orchestra, and Yo Yo Ma's moving rendition of Klid (Silent Woods) for cello and orchestra. Frederica von Stade's "O Moon High Up in the Deep Sky" aria from Rusalka and "Songs My Mother Taught Me" are glorious. This is a very fine collection of works, and will tempt the listener to find even more of Dvořák's beautiful music.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

[ Also available on DVD Kultur Video 4211 (96 minutes): Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

Piano Trios From Belgium

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Fuga Libera FUG518

Joseph Jongen
(1873-1953)

Piano Trio, Op. 10 (1896-97)
Aquarelles for Violin & Piano, Op. 59 (1918)
Two Pieces for Piano Trio, Op. 95 (1931)

Ensemble Joseph Jongen
Fuga Libera FUG518 61:24

Jongen's quartets featured in an earlier Explorer article. The works on this CD will appeal to anyone who enjoys Debussy, Ravel and Fauré in particular. The Op. 10 trio has had other recordings but Op. 95 is less well-known: the first piece especially has some limpid piano writing that makes it a real winner. The pianist, Diane Andersen, will be a familiar name to seasoned collectors.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music PlusMusicnotes.com ]

Spanish Classics

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Naxos 8.570713

Tomás Bretón
(1850-1923)

Four Spanish Pieces (1911) 18:44
Piano Trio in E Major (1887) 34:42

Lom Piano Trio
Naxos 8.570713

Tomás Bretón was known in his day primarily as an operatic and zarzuela composer. The works under review, however, are wonderful examples of his chamber music writing. Naxos is bringing this music back from years of unjust neglect, as part of their Spanish Classics series, a collection well worth exploring. The first two movements and the finale of Bretón's delightful piano trio are good examples of Late Romantic European chamber music. The third movement, dance-like and less formal, definitely speaks with a musical Spanish accent.

The Lom Piano Trio (Joan Orpella, violin; José Mor, cello; and Daniel Ligorio, piano) play this music with verve and spirit. Especially exciting are the Four Spanish Pieces. The third piece, Bolero, has a melody with the charm of a Fritz Kreisler composition.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music PlusMusicnotes.com ]

Champion of Italian Instrumental Music

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Albany TROY191

Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco
(1895-1960)

Piano Trio #1, Op. 49 (1928)
Piano Quintet No 1, Op. 69 (1934)

The Arman Ensemble
Albany Records TROY191

These chamber works are like a big box of imported chocolates. Every movement seems different in character yet each of the works are perfectly integrated. There is clear influence of the fertile 1920's with strong suggestions of French and Spanish color. Each work is a fine example of chamber music that is both accessible immediately and worth many repeated hearings.

Castelnuovo-Tedesco studied with Pizzetti, who with several other Italian composers (Martucci, Casella, Malipiero, Respighi and others) founded societies for the propagation of modern Italian instrumental music. In Italy, Castelnuovo-Tedesco was in demand as a composer and as a critic and essayist. However, when the situation for Jews got much too dangerous, Italy's loss was America's gain. Castelnuovo-Tedesco left Italy in 1939 and became an American Citizen in 1946. He wrote over 200 film music projects, and for many years taught some of the brightest film composers including Henry Mancini, André Previn, Nelson Riddle and John Williams.

The Arman Ensemble members performing the trio are: Deniz Arman Gelenbe, piano; Fritz Gearhart, violin; Brian Manker, cello. The Quintet personnel are Deniz Arman Gelenbe, piano; Eric Prichard, violin; Hsiao-mei Ku, violin; Jonathan Bagg, viola; Fred Raimi, cello.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - Musicnotes.com
   Score for the trio at Eastman School of Music, Sibley Library
   Score for the quintet at Michigan State University Library ]

Chamber Music From An Opera Composer

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CPO 999721

Heinrich Marschner
(1795-1861)

Piano Trio #2 in G Minor, Op. 111 (1841)
Piano Trio #5 in D Minor, Op. 138 (1848)

Beethoven Trio Ravensburg
CPO 999721-2 70:51

Much better known as a composer of operas, Marschner also left considerable quantities of orchestral and chamber music among which are seven piano trios. The two under consideration are quite extended works which owe more than a little to better-known composers of the period, not least Mendelssohn.

[ Available on CD:
Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - Musicnotes.com ]

Complete Piano Trios by Lalo

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MD&G 3030482

Édouard Lalo
(1823-1892)

Piano Trio #1 in C minor, Op. 7
Piano Trio #2 in B minor
Piano Trio #3 in A minor, Op. 26

Trio Parnassus
Dabringhaus & Grimm MDG3030482-2 77:59

Lalo performed with a professional string quartet first as a violist, and then as a violinist, so it is no wonder that his chamber music compositions are totally idiomatic for strings. The first two trios were written in the early 1850's and the third was written in 1880. The clear influence of Schumann and Mendelssohn is heard in all three, but the third trio also has the very exciting cross-rhythms reminiscent of Lalo's more famous works for violin and cello. These are very fine performances by the Trio Parnassus (Chia Chou, piano; Wolf-Dieter Streicher, violin; Michael Gross, violoncello)!

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

[ Sheet Music for Trio #2 is available at Edition Silvertrust
More sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - Musicnotes.com ]
Trumpet