Written in response to the tragic and deeply felt death of his friend and mentor Nikolai Rubinstein, Tchaikovsky's A minor Piano Trio represents his only foray into a genre that he had previously found undesirable. Writing in tribute to Rubinstein yielded a massive, elegiac first movement and a lighter but hardly frivolous set of 11 variations, each of which represents a memory of Rubinstein's life. The elegiac style for piano trios caught on quickly among Russian composers; the young Rachmaninov produced two such works, the first of which -- a soulful, one-movement work -- is heard on this album. Performing on this Champs Hill Records album is the Gould Piano Trio. The ensemble not only plays with meticulous technical skill, pristine intonation, and close attention to details in the score, but it also manages to put forth convincing, engaging performances of compositions that can all too often become overwrought and even sappy. Instead of using excessive amounts of rubato, the Gould Trio uses a broad dynamic range to shape phrases and accentuate highlights. Balance within the trio is generally quite good; neither of the strings is ever unnecessarily obscured by the more densely scored piano. The only possible thing lacking in this recording is a richer, meatier bass sound in both the cello and piano left-hand.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|Trio in A minor, Op. 50|