Zürcher Klavier Trio

Shostakovich: Piano Trios; 7 Romances

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In 2006, the centenary year of the birth of the great Soviet composer Dmitry Shostakovich, performers of all shapes and sizes took to recording his works. Orchestras recorded his orchestral music, string quartets recorded his quartet music, and, unsurprisingly, piano trios recorded his piano trio music. Fortunately, while Shostakovich wrote 15 symphonies and 15 string quartets, all the music he wrote for the latter ensemble -- two trios plus a song cycle setting texts by Alexander Blok for soprano and piano trio -- can be contained on a single disc. Unfortunately, this disc by the Zürcher Klaviertrio -- violinist Gabriel Adorján, cellist Joël Marosi, and pianist Christiane Frucht joined by soprano Gun-Brit Barkmin -- was not the only disc released in 2006 of these works; the Beaux Arts Trio with soprano Joanne Rogers also released a disc containing the same works that year. In terms of international recognition, this meant that the Zürcher Klaviertrio's disc distributed by the Swiss label Clavier did not receive the same attention as the Beaux Arts Trio's disc distributed by the American label Warner Classics. And this is quite unfortunate because the Zürcher's performances and the Beaux Arts' performances are wonderfully complementary. Where the Beaux Arts Trio emphasizes the lyrical and romantic aspects of the works, the Zürcher emphasizes the dramatic and modernist aspects. With the Swiss group, Shostakovich's music sounds harshly angular, passionately anguished, and unrelentingly driven, with warm-toned soprano Barkmin adding the only touch of human tenderness in the Blok song cycle. For fans of the many-sided composer, both discs will be necessary to understand the full meaning of the music. Claves' crisp, full sound is ideally balanced between the performers.

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