Both written before the composer was 21 and both self-consciously described as Trio élégiaques, Rachmaninov's two Piano Trios are massively passionate, monumentally despairing, and excruciatingly difficult both emotionally and technically. The single-movement G minor Trio demands unstinting concentration plus unswerving commitment to make it hold together, while the three-movement D minor Trio, with its enormous 20-minute opening movement complete with 13 tempo changes, is nearly as immense with a 17-minute central variation movement complete with nine tempo changes, and its relatively brief closing eight-minute movement complete with recollections from earlier movements takes unrelenting intensity plus unwavering dedication to make it succeed.
Yet when performed with enough soul, strength, and sheer courage, Rachmaninov's Piano Trios can't miss. And with the trio of pianist Valeri Grohovski, violinist Eduard Wulfson, and cellist Dmitry Yablonsky, they don't miss but hit the heart and the head dead on. Each player is obviously a virtuoso but each player is likewise clearly striving to be a part of the whole and the result is an ensemble of equals. More importantly, each player is giving everything to Rachmaninov's Trios. Although there are many fine recordings of both works, the devotion Grohovski, Wulfson, and Yablonsky bring to the music makes their recording well worth hearing by anyone who loves the works. Naxos' sound is close and very vivid.