Australian Trio

Saint-Saëns: The Complete Piano Trios

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Despite the rather prolific chamber music output of Camille Saint-Saëns, few of his works in this genre are performed today. This is especially true of his two piano trios, plus the piano trio arrangement of his Op. 65 Septet. With such an immense repertoire for the medium, Saint-Saëns' contributions don't entirely stack up to the composition. They tend toward rambling and often lack in direction. This is not to say they are poor compositions or that they should not be played. Rather, it simply means they require especially strong performances to really convince listeners of their worth. Regrettably, the Australian Trio does not even come close to achieving this. The three musicians lack any sense of chamber music cohesion, instead coming across as three independent players each doing their own thing. Articulation, dynamics, and phrasing do not match, nor does it seem the group has any specific plan to convey the musical content of the score. By far the most problematic issue, however, is intonation, which at times is totally intolerable. The album also contains the Op. 32 Cello Sonata and Op. 75 Violin Sonata. Although the issue of the strings matching each other's intonation is eliminated, nothing else improves. If all you want is to hear the notes Saint-Saëns wrote down, then this is the album for you; if you want to actually experience the potential of his chamber music, however, look elsewhere.

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