Spanning some one and a quarter centuries, the A minor Piano Trio of Tchaikovsky and Victor Kissine's Zerkalo (Mirror) for piano trio encompass the breadth and impressive development that has occurred in Russian chamber music during that time. Tchaikovsky, who once vehemently opposed writing for piano trio on the grounds that the combined sounds were intensely displeasing to him, ended up writing one of the most dramatic, sweeping examples in the literature. It is by no means conventional in its own right; Tchaikovsky abandoned the traditional movement structure and instead wrote a massive two-movement work. Kissine's Zerkalo was inspired by a line of prose, but also incorporates sophisticated and subtle mirrored sections throughout its complex score. Though the two trios could not be more different, they work well together on this disc, particularly in the capable hands of Gidon Kremer, Giedré Dirvanauskaite, and Khatia Buniatishvili. Kremer has long been a champion of modern works, and does great justice to Kissine's score. The level of detail and subtle aspects of dynamics, intonations, phrasing, and articulation that his ensemble incorporates makes for a gripping and at times chilling performance of this worthwhile composition. The Tchaikovsky completely changes gears in the most memorable ways; the tone changes from glasslike to a robust, meaty "Russian" sound that surrounds listeners with the memorable melodies and rich harmonies. ECM's recorded sound quality is full and resonant while maintaining an appropriate amount of clarity.
AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|Trio in A minor, for piano, violin and violoncello, Op. 50|