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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Wanderer Trio, Tchaikovsky & Arensky, Piano Trios

Perhaps like you, my much appreciated readers, I have over the years come to know and love Tchaikovsky's Piano Trio, op. 50 for its great thematic wealth and its lyrical yet fully structured demeanor. On the other hand Anton Arensky (1861-1906) and his Piano Trio, op 32 may not be very familiar, or unknown to you.

That lack and the corresponding familiarity meet in the very sympathetic, fully capable hands of the Wanderer Trio and their new recording of the two works (Harmonia Mundi 902161).

There have been many recordings of the Tchaikovsky Trio but this one rivals most, if not all. The Wanderer Trio give us the expression so fundamental to the work, but they also thrive on getting the phrasing worked out in great detail, bringing out what should be articulated, creating a blend where all three parts are separate, equal in terms of emphasis as needed, thematically critical parts getting center stage as needed, but the whole always kept in balance. It is a work one should not be without and this is a first-class reading all the way.

Anton Arensky's Trio is not nearly as well known, but it stands up to the comparison with the Tchaikovsky quite well. Both are elegiac: Tchaikovsky dedicated his to the memory of Nikolay Rubenstein; Arensky's Trio was dedicated to the cellist Karl Davidov. Arensky's is slightly less overtly romantic in expressive emotive qualities but makes equal and no less pleasurable thematic inroads in the course of the work.

In the end it is a definite triumph for the Wanderer Trio. They sound just right for the two works and the sound is glorious. Even if you have other versions of the Tchaikovsky, the Arensky is a major and neglected work you should not pass up, especially when performed so well here.

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