Henry Charles Litolff, known as the English Liszt in his time, and even admired by that mercurial pianist-composer, is all but forgotten in ours. The Scherzo from his Fourth Concerto Symphonique, Op. 102, is occasionally played, but the two piano trios heard here are very rare items; the second of them, as well as the little Serenade for violin and piano, Op. 91, that closes the program, receive their commercial recording premieres. They are excellent works, somewhere in between Mendelssohn and Schumann, that are well worth a revival. Perhaps the Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, Op. 47, was discarded because of its rather unwieldy relationship among the instruments: it's very much a piano virtuoso's piano trio, but it's full of energy, with themes that will linger in the brain. In the Piano Trio No. 2 in E flat major, Op. 56, it's as if Litolff had resolved to balance the instruments more equitably; the finale is a rather startling piece of all-virtuoso polyphony. Litolff's slow movements are well-formed and melodic, and they receive especially fetching performances from the Leonore Piano Trio, who are also equal to the considerable technical challenges of all of the music. The church acoustic is wrong here, but this is an important find for chamber music lovers.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor|
|Piano Trio No. 2 in E flat major|