Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Beginnings, reconciliation and serenity

Albert Roussel Piano Trio, op. 2; Claude Debussy: Piano Trio no. 1; Gabriel Faure: Piano Trio, op. 120

Back in October 2016 I reviewed the debut Chandos disc from the Neave Trio, American Moments, and loved pretty much everything about it, though I did quibble a bit about the title. These are such talented musicians, and they've put together another fascinating CD program, but at a significantly higher musical level. And this time around the title is just right.

As with the first disc, there's an early work to begin: Albert Roussel's Piano Trio was only his second published work, but it's definitely assured and well-crafted. It may not have the swagger of the child prodigy Erich Wolfgang Korngold's op. 1 Trio, but its opening slow introduction is really quite extraordinary, a slow climb up a mountain through a misty forest. The rest of the work doesn't quite match this atmospheric beginning, but it gets a committed reading from the Trio. Roussel took his time becoming a composer; he was 33 when his op. 2 was published, so you can imagine him as Robert Redford the Rookie in The Natural. Claude Debussy's first Piano Trio is an actual work of juvenilia, though, as he was only 18 when he wrote it. It's rather slight and a bit slick, but it's certainly fun to listen to, and this version has just the right blend of naiveté and prescient irony.

Just like with their first disc, there's a very fine mature work to finish. Gabriel Faure's op. 120 was written only a year before his death, and during a period when he was not in very good health. But it has the reconciliation and serenity that Edward Said calls the "accepted notion" of late style, citing Sophocles, Shakespeare and Verdi. This is powerful, moving music, played with great sentiment but also grace and finesse.

Here's the official trailer video from Chandos.

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