Leonore Piano Trio

Lalo: Piano Trios

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The first two of these three piano trios by Edouard Lalo are among the few examples of French chamber music in the middle of the 19th century. The trios have never been well known, and even the dates of composition of the first two are uncertain. This is all very odd, given that chamber musicians in no way have a surfeit of material from the Romantic era, and all three of these trios are more than competent examples. They are based on German models, and nothing about them would cause you to guess that they were by the composer of the Symphonie espagnole in D minor, Op. 21. The first two are heavily influenced by Schumann and Mendelssohn without sounding precisely like either one. Especially in the slow movements they resemble the melodies of Mendelssohn's Songs Without Words rather than that composer's weightier string quartets, and the tunes are strong enough to leave themselves hanging in your head after the music is done. The Piano Trio No. 3 in A minor, Op. 26, is denser; here the model is Brahms. The Leonore Piano Trio, with none other than Tim Horton on piano, delivers clean, light performances that respect the music's craft without trying to make of it more than is there, and they're aided greatly by superb engineering work from Hyperion in the prime British venue for chamber music, the Wyastone Estate Concert Hall. Recommended for Romantic chamber music buffs.

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