Trio Wanderer

Tchaikovsky: Piano Trio, Op. 50; Arensky: Piano Trio No. 1, Op. 32

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The combination of Tchaikovsky's Piano Trio in A minor, Op. 50, with Anton Arensky's Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, Op. 32, is a common one, for the two works were both written as memorials to instrumentalists. Good recordings in the stereo era go back to one recorded by Yefim Bronfman, Cho-Liang Lin, and Gary Hoffman on Sony some years ago, but the present release can stand with such classics. The two trios share an unusual mix of passionate virtuosity and elegiac quality, as if to remember the powers of the deceased player. Tchaikovsky's trio is a massive work, clocking in at well over 40 minutes even at the brisk tempos at which it is taken here. It requires a pianist who can approach it with unflagging energy and a broad sweep, and that's just what it gets here from Vincent Coq of France's fast-rising Trio Wanderer. The group is impressively colorful in the theme and the set of 12 variations that make up the work's second movement, changing textures and moods on a dime without a moment's slackness, and delivering full power in the stirring "Variation Finale & Coda." The Arensky trio, composed in 1894, was dedicated to the memory of cellist Karl Davydov, but one might see it as well as a memorial to Tchaikovsky. It is clearly influenced by the Tchaikovsky trio, but it tries to pack its emotions into more conventional forms. Arensky's melodic gift is fully in evidence here, and Trio Wanderer makes it sing. Fine studio sound from Harmonia Mundi is a major attraction here and gives this recording the edge over several earlier outings. Highly recommended.

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