Triple Forte

Ravel, Shostakovich, Ives: Piano Trios

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This program of piano trios from Canada's Triple Forte trio isn't one that would have been performed in the early 20th century, when the Piano Trio of Charles Ives was virtually unknown. Nevertheless, these works date from within a dozen years of each other and "talk to each other." Triple Forte does very well with the Ives trio, which, like Ravel's piece, is concerned with the balance among the three instruments. This work is comparatively rarely performed, perhaps because its opening movement offers none of the programmatic content that lets the listener get a grip on Ives. It explores in the abstract the polytonal and simultaneous-discourse techniques used in other Ives works with specific referents. The scherzo, marked TSAIJ (This Scherzo Is a Joke), is quite difficult technically. Triple Forte is on top of the work both technically and emotionally, catching the somewhat arrogantly playful quality in Ives that many non-American performers miss. Another comparative rarity is the single-movement Piano Trio No. 1/8, of Dmitry Shostakovich, composed in 1923. It's a student work but one that bears the mark of his own personality. The sole weak spot here is the Ravel Piano Trio in A minor, which lacks a degree of mystery and Eastern allure in Triple Forte's performance, but on balance this is a worthwhile release with some less-common chamber music by major composers.

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