Preghiera: Rachmaninov Piano Trios

Giedré Dirvanauskaité / Gidon Kremer / Daniil Trifonov

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Preghiera: Rachmaninov Piano Trios Review

by James Manheim

This group of Rachmaninov piano trios was released in celebration of the 70th birthday of Latvian violinist Gidon Kremer. One might have expected something that placed Kremer more in the spotlight than chamber music, and perhaps something devoted to the enormous influence he has had in reviving neglected Baltic and Eastern European repertory. On greater reflection, though, the decision is typical: Kremer has always been one who guides rather than one who takes the spotlight himself, and he has recorded a great deal of Russian music, often in fresh ways. So it is here with Rachmaninov. His two "trios élégiaques" are both youthful works; the Trio élégiaque No. 2 in D minor, Op. 9, was composed when he was 21, and the person being given the elegy was the late Tchaikovsky, whose own piano trio also had a set of variations for its central movement. The trios give priority not to the violin, but to the piano, and for chamber music partners Kremer chooses a mix of his own generation -- cellist Giedré Dirvanauskaité -- and the new one, Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov. It's an effective constellation overall, with Trifonov getting the virtuoso parts and the two older players putting in commentary. This isn't top-drawer Rachmaninov (the Trio No. 2 is a bit sprawling), but the group captures its mood of bravado and interiority. Another bonus is the rarely heard Preghiera, the slow movement of the Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18, arranged for piano trio by none other than Fritz Kreisler. Sample this, for it introduces the fresh balances that are the distinctive feature of this recording. Deutsche Grammophon's sound, from the wooden and gentle Trifolion hall in Echternach, Luxembourg, is idiomatic to the music and exceptionally pleasant.

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