All three of the composers featured on this enjoyable album of contemporary piano trios were born in England, but all of the music has strong connections with Scotland and an unmistakable Scottish flavor even as it is quite diverse in style. The album's title comes from an opera by Nigel Osborne, material from which was adapted into the short movements constituting the work of the same name here. Only the first contains an effect suggesting the tuning of a piano, but the others expand on that idea in delightful ways, introducing various scales, some of them Asian, and beginning to treat them fugally. Sally Beamish's The Seafarer Trio, with mystery novelist Alexander McCall Smith as narrator, offers incidental music of a sort for the titular Anglo-Saxon poem, presented here in a modern translation: "My mind is cast upon the sea swell, over the whale's world widely to course creation's coast: a closing rapture keenly calls." Judith Weir's Piano Trio No. 2, written after "contemplating what a Zen piano trio would sound like," bears mystical movement titles ("How grass and trees become enlightened") and relies on vaguely Zen-like procedures in each of its three movements: the initial material is somehow atomized or dissolved over the course of the movements, and the work ends with very Zen surprise that it would be unkind to spoil here. Beamish and Weir in particular have been gaining performances beyond Scotland, and Scotland's Fidelio Trio offers fine examples of its work.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Piano Trio Two|
|The Piano Tuner|