Icicle Creek Piano Trio

Haydn, Shostakovich, Turina

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Not out of nowhere, but certainly out of a location far from the usual centers of fine chamber music, comes the Icicle Creek Piano Trio, headquartered at the Icicle Creek Music Center in the eastern part of the U.S. state of Washington. It is thus a double pleasure to be able to report the creation of an absolutely superb disc of chamber music and one, moreover, whose virtues lie in the realm of exceptional technique and insightful interpretation rather than in some unusual innovation. This is just one of those rare chamber music recordings that immediately draw you in with their sensitivity and execution: sample the opening of the late Haydn Piano Trio in E major, Hob. 15/28, with its playful little arpeggio on the piano that mimics the attack of the strings. The odd central movement of this trio, with its walking, continuo-like bass line, is taken at a brisk clip that brings out an unusual implacable quality. The Dawn, Midday, and Sunset movements of Joaquín Turina's Círculo, Op. 91 (the last of these a lovely portrayal of busy evening streets receding to quiet), are extraordinarily evocative. And the trio does not flag in the most substantial work on the program, the Piano Trio No. 2 in E minor, Op. 67, increasingly looking like one of the absolute masterpieces of 20th century chamber music. Composed in 1944, just as Nazi atrocities against European Jews were fully coming to light, the work is suffused with Jewish inflections. Violinist Jennifer Caine delivers superior tragic melody in the slow movement. The Allegretto finale is a tour de force, atomizing a theme reminiscent of Fiddler on the Roof into motives and then building up to a conclusion of Beethovenian depth. Not a single detail is lost here. The sound, frequently a problem with small independent releases, comes from a studio in Seattle and does a good job of staying out of the performers' way. Highest possible recommendation. The designer who took the lines of the UPC code, that little piece of colonization from the commercial realm, and turned them into note stems also deserves recognition. The booklet notes, by Caine, are in English only.

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