Every so often a chamber group comes my way who I have not paid enough attention to, who impresses in exceptional ways and makes me take notice. That is very true of the piano trio known as the Clairmont Trio, as heard in their recent release of commissioned new works, Queen of Hearts (Tria Records CD). It is in celebration of their 20th anniversary, and a happy thing that. On the program we get six works or sets of works especially commissioned by the trio. The results are a testament to the Trio's discerning patronage of some very talented new voices on the scene, and too also the exceptional flexibility and virtuosity of the Claremont Trio.
This is modern Piano Trio music on the tonal side, nicely complex and expressive, all worthy vehicles for the trio to show us their remarkable sensitivity and expressivity, their exceptional interactive prowess. Every work here is interesting, some for a kind of modal tonality or heightened rhythmic flow and sometimes an expanded tonality that points to modern traditions, so to speak.
The way the Clairmont jump into each work makes you want to hear them do more--they are exciting and poetic whether it is "Four Folk Songs" by Gabriela Lena Frank, Sean Shepherd's "Trio," "A Serious Man" by Judd Greenstein, "Three Whistler Miniatures" by Helen Grime, Nico Muhly's "Common Ground" and finally Kati Agoca's "Queen of Hearts."
It is one of the most engaging and enlivening Modern Chamber disks of the last few years. If you appreciate some vital Modern works played remarkably well, this one is a must. I can't wait for more from these fine young talents!