Barbican Piano Trio

Taneyev: Piano Trio in D major; Piano Quartet in E major

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When it comes to supremely well-trained fin de siècle composers, only Bruckner and d'Indy are in the same class as Sergey Taneyev. As the two works on the disc make clear, Taneyev's mastery of the techniques of counterpoint and composition was unmatched in Russia at the time. In both the D minor Piano Trio and the E major Piano Quartet, Taneyev's control of line, harmony, and form is complete, and the works are thoroughly convincing examples of musical craftsmanship. Whether they are enjoyable to listen to is another question. As with Rachmaninov, Scriabin, Glazunov, Arensky, and other contemporary Russian composers, Taneyev's lyricism is intense, his drama is extreme, and the combination can sound labored and insincere in an unsympathetic performance. Fortunately, England's Barbican Piano Trio is very sympathetic to Taneyev's music, and its playing is not only well-wrought but very expressive. In the Barbican's performances, the Trio and the Quartet seem to be brilliantly written and deeply emotional works in which the rigor of the writing is necessary to contain the strength of the feelings. Dutton's digital sound is hugely present and immensely real.

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