Beethoven & Ravel

Claremont Trio

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Beethoven & Ravel Review

by Mike D. Brownell

Though their composition is separated by an expanse of more than a century, both Beethoven's Op. 1 Piano Trios and Ravel's Piano Trio sought to reinvent and revitalize the genre. Unlike his predecessors, Beethoven envisioned the piano trio as a nearly symphonic medium, freeing the strings from constantly doubling the piano and instead casting them as full partners in the chamber music-making. Ravel also had orchestral ambitions in his piano trio, incorporating a variety of textures, timbres, and extended techniques to expand the ensemble's sound capabilities. Performing the Beethoven Op. 1/3 and Ravel trios is the Claremont Trio who, interestingly enough, programmed the same two compositions for its first performance together at the Juilliard School. Claremont's exuberant, robust sound goes a long way toward emphasizing the orchestral visions of the two composers. They also prove themselves to be a highly diverse ensemble by contrasting Beethoven's clean, crisp precision with Ravel's softer hushed sonorities and more fluid tempo. The trio plays with an obvious sense of connection and communication in its nicely matched articulation, organic rubato, and careful management of balance. In addition to its keen interpretive sense, Claremont brings an impeccable technique and precise intonation to the studio. Tria Records' sound quality is warm, spacious, and clean.

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