Often lost in the shadow of his wildly successful student Benjamin Britten, the works of Frank Bridge are still continuing to earn the respect they so deserve. The English composer had three main style periods, ranging from deeply Romantic to nearly avant-garde. This Naxos album of Bridge's works for piano trio represents two of these style periods. The Phantasie Trio in C minor (Trio No. 1) opens the program and is a beautiful example of Bridge's neo-Romantic writing, complete with soaring melodies, often lush harmonies, and moments of genuine tenderness. Also from this period, but much less broad in scope, is his Nine Miniatures for Piano Trio, a set of short pieces intended as student works focusing on various techniques but no less charming than his more "serious" compositions. In the middle of these two early works is the Piano Trio No. 2, which comes from Bridge's second compositional period. Filled with chromaticism and dissonance, this trio was harshly criticized in Bridge's lifetime for being too heavy on technical challenges and too light on musical satisfaction. Performing these works are violinist Jack Liebeck, cellist Alexander Chaushian, and pianist Ashley Wass. While each gifted on their individual instruments, it quickly becomes clear to listeners that this is not a long-standing, committed piano trio but rather a group of soloists joined together for the purpose of this album. Sound quality in the strings does not blend particularly well, and Bridge's frequent use of octaves between the violin and cello exposes occasional disagreements in intonation as well. Still, recordings of these trios are difficult to come by, and chamber music fans unfamiliar with them will no doubt jump at the opportunity to add them to their collections.
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AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|Phantasie Trio, for violin, cello & piano in C minor ("Piano Trio No. 1")|
|Piano Trio No. 2|
|Miniatures, for piano trio (piano, violin & cello)|