Featuring an outstanding program, terrific performances, and almost unbelievable sound, this disc is head and shoulders above most of the competition. Shostakovich's searing Piano Trio, Op. 67, from 1944, is classic of both the genre and the composer, preceded by Weinberg's harrowing Piano Trio, Op. 24, from 1945, a work and a composer barely known except to the cognoscenti, which make for an inspired combination. Both are large-scaled, four-movement works, and both address the central issues of the time -- war, death, suffering, and endurance -- in a harmonic language at once modern and timeless, personal and public. This is what a coupling should be -- surprising yet appropriate, contrasting yet cogent, and ultimately greater than the sum of its parts.
If the Leschetizky Trio-Vienna was a rock band, it would be Led Zeppelin. Individually, Russian piano Stanislav Tichonow, Austrian violinist Klara Flieder, and French-speaking Swiss cellist Christophe David Pantillon are first-class virtuosos with fabulous technique, power, and energy. They blast through the enormous difficulties of both pieces with seeming ease and deliver performances of consummate musicality. Best of all, they make as compelling a case for Weinberg's nearly unknown Trio as for Shostakovich's widely popular work. Recorded in sound so all-encompassing that the listener feels positively enveloped by it, this disc is as good as it gets.