Osiris Trio

Verklärte Nacht: Works for Piano Trio - Arnold Schönberg, Karl Wegel

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A pair of oddities is what's on offer here, but both are at the very least intriguing. The marquee attraction is the 1932 arrangement for piano trio by pianist Eduard Steuermann of Arnold Schoenberg's programmatic string sextet Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night, 1898). This was a work Schoenberg himself apparently considered susceptible to arrangement, for he himself arranged it for string orchestra. The Steuermann version became lost in the chaos surrounding the emigration of much of the Schoenberg circle to the U.S. in the 1930s, and that seems to be the reason for its general neglect. It is more transparent than the original sextet, to about the same degree that the orchestral version is denser. The piano part is difficult, but the Netherlands' Osiris Trio and pianist Ellen Corver get the balances and render a convincing reduction of this emotionally violent Expressionist work. The Piano Trio of Karl Weigl was begun in Vienna and finished in the U.S. in 1939. It's an enjoyable little work that explores some of the harmonic discoveries of early Schoenberg and attempts to put them back into the classical forms of Brahms, whose influence is especially apparent in the rustic finale. Either of these works might bring something exciting to any piano trio program, and the Osiris Trio deserves credit for unearthing them. The sound from Challenge Classics' engineers, working at Belgium's MotorMusic studio, is close to ideal.

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