Trio Latitude 41

Saint Saëns: Piano Trios

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The origins of the members of Trio Latitude 41 are multinational but do not include France, where you find the greatest number of performances (and tend to find the most convincing ones) of the chamber music of Camille Saint-Saëns. The hyphen in the composer's name seems to have fallen into the ocean on one of the transatlantic crossings, and the ridiculous graphics of this project testify to quick production. But the performances are solid. The two Saint-Saëns trios date from 30 years apart and inhabit quite different worlds. The early Piano Trio No. 1 in F major, Op. 18, which closes the program, was written during Saint-Saëns' vacation in the south of France, may contain a melody from the musically fertile Auvergne region, and in general is a beautifully tuneful piece of mid-century chamber music comparable to Smetana or early Dvorák. The Piano Trio No. 2 in E minor, Op. 92, is a dense piece with an unusual 5/4 second movement and some themes that don't seem possible to convert into counterpoint, yet that's just what happens. The piece has a certain flavor of trying to wring every last bit of beauty out of its materials even as the musical world was changing around its composer, and it can seem fussy in the wrong hands. The performances of both works here, however, are sympathetic and careful. Recommended for anyone interested in Saint-Saëns' smaller works.

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