Hermitage Piano Trio


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Sergei Rachmaninoff composed few chamber pieces, most of which were products of his youth and more often than not discounted as student works, though his two piano trios are reasonably well-established in the repertoire and have been frequently recorded. They were composed in the early 1890s and reflect Rachmaninoff's keen interest in the music of Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky, whose brooding, passionate style strongly influenced the Trio élégiaque No. 1 in G minor, and became the chief inspiration for the Trio élégiaque No. 2 in D minor, written in memory of Tchaikovsky. In 2019, the Hermitage Piano Trio issued its first super audio album on Reference Recordings, featuring both piano trios and a 1928 transcription of Rachmaninoff's Vocalise by Julius Conus, presented in remarkably clear sound with terrific separation of the parts. This transparency is necessary in order to follow Rachmaninoff 's densely scored music, which often exploits the lower register and employs thick chords, and which in less skilled hands can sound murky and harmonically indistinct. The keyboard part is dominant throughout both trios, but pianist Ilya Kazantsev shows restraint and pulls back enough to give violinist Misha Keylin and cellist Sergey Antonov equal space to breathe. With this close attention to textures and focus on the independence of the players, the performances are well-balanced and finely detailed, and the recorded sound in Mechanics Hall, Worcester, Massachusetts, is warm and intimate.

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