RACHMANINOV: Trio elegiaque, No. 1; TCHAIKOVSKY: Piano Trio – Trio Testore – Audite

by | Dec 8, 2014 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

RACHMANINOV: Trio elegiaque, No. 1; TCHAIKOVSKY: Piano Trio, Op. 50 – Trio Testore – Audite multichannel SACD 92.691, 64:54 [Distr. by Naxos] ****:

The pairing of these two works on one disc makes a lot of sense; Tchaikovsky, who really hated the idea of chamber music in general, despite the issuance of three quartets, a sextet, and this Piano Trio, dedicated this last as a requiem of sorts to his mentor and teacher, and colleague, Nikolai Rubinstein. The two had a lot of personal issues, Rubinstein with a penchant of being brutally critical and also probably aware of how the talent of his younger protégé dwarfed his own; yet Tchaikovsky always knew what he owed to his master, and this Trio was the result. It’s not your everyday piano trio—yet is does focus on the form of which he was an undisputed master himself—the variation. The finale ends in a funeral vein of great import.

Rachmaninov wrote two “elegiac” trios, but the first one was only published posthumously, and it too expresses the same sense of devotion and tribute as Tchaikovsky’s but this time it is the latter who is on the receiving end in the same way as he poured out his affection to Rubinstein. Rachmaninov, only 17 years old at the time, extends Tchaikovsky’s own methods and even makes allusions to his works, notably the First Piano Concerto. The piece is nowhere near Tchaikovsky’s own in terms of quality and skill; but for a teenager the display of ability is quite notable.

Trio Testore displays a definite verve and raw energy in both these works coupled with an alluring tonal quality and great surround sound recording. Both of these pieces rank with the best out there in terms of recorded legacy.

—Steven Ritter

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