“Trios from Our Homelands” = REBECCA CLARKE: Piano Trio; ARNO BABAJANIAN: Piano Trio; MARTIN: Trio sur des mélodies populaires irlandaises – Lincoln Trio – Cedille

A lovely disc of neglected and highly worthy trios.

“Trios from our Homelands” = REBECCA CLARKE: Piano Trio; ARNO BABAJANIAN: Piano Trio in f-sharp; FRANK MARTIN: Trio sur des mélodies populaires irlandaises – Lincoln Trio – Cedille 90000 165, 1:04:08 (8/12/16) [Distr. by Naxos] *****:

The three members of the Lincoln Trio are using their varied ethnic backgrounds as the premise for this superb collection of little-known but outstanding piano trios. None will be very well-known to most people, though the Trio on Popular Irish Melodies, an early work of no little importance, will be recognized by some. Martin is a greatly underrated, underestimated, and certainly underperformed composer whose music is always rewarding. For those put off by some of the later, more complex works, this Trio is a grand place to start, an open invitation to a sound world that would increasingly develop in sophistication and melodic imagination as time went on.

Most astute listeners know the name of Rebecca Clarke even though they can’t name one piece by her that they have heard. This 1922 Trio is remarkable for its vigorous technical difficulties, couched in a mélange of on-the-fence late romantic harmonies and nicely-crafted melodic lines. Though British, she has been recognized as one of the pioneer American women composers, who unfortunately abandoned her craft while in her fifties, going on to live until the ripe age of 93! The loss is definitely ours.

It seems as though only in the last few years has the rich legacy of Armenian composition slowly been making its presence known. This 1952 piece is hauntingly beautiful in many places, while maintaining a signal dramatic effect though the course of the three movements., with the mainly 5/8 meter in the allegro vivace finale a stirring and rhythmically vital conclusion.

The Anne & Howard Gottlieb Hall at the Merit School of Music in Chicago sculpts the sound to perfection in a very ingratiating recording. The Lincoln Trio, named for the star of the American heartland, plays with spirit and determined vibrancy in an extremely worthwhile recital.

—Steven Ritter   

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