Sitkovetsky Trio

Ravel & Saint-Saëns: Piano Trios

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Ravel & Saint-Saëns: Piano Trios Review

by James Manheim

Here's a French chamber music recording that offers several attractive features and fresh ideas. First is the pairing of Ravel, the progressive, and Saint-Saëns, the conservative; in fact, it makes a great deal of sense, for Ravel explicitly pointed to the influence of both of Saint-Saëns' trios in balancing the parts in the piano trio medium. Both works pose challenges to the pianist in terms of its relationship to the other instruments, and it is worth paying close attention to the striking variety of textures produced by pianist Wu Qian. The Saint-Saëns Piano Trio No. 2 in E minor, Op. 92, is a remarkable work that is not often performed. It catches Saint-Saëns in a Central European mood. The dramatic outer movements are Beethovenian, and even the pentatonic central movement of the five suggests Dvořák. One might easily fail to guess Saint-Saëns as the composer, and its forthright quality makes a good contrast with the slightly exotic Ravel. Throughout, the Sitkovetsky Trio is a model of ensemble, allowing each of the players moments of beauty while moving seamlessly as a single unit. This is a superb French music recording for anyone, and for those who love Saint-Saëns, it's an absolute must.

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