TCHAIKOVSKY: Piano Trio in A Minor, Op. 50; BRAHMS: Horn Trio in E-flat Major, Op. 40 – Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, violin/ Antonio Meneses, cello/ John Cerminaro, French horn Cecile Licad, piano – EMI

by | Nov 17, 2005 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

TCHAIKOVSKY: Piano Trio in A Minor, Op. 50; BRAHMS: Horn Trio
in E-flat Major, Op. 40 – Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, violin/ Antonio
Meneses, cello/ John Cerminaro, French horn Cecile Licad, piano – EMI
0946 3 31536-2  75:15 ****:

Here are the kinds of heart-on-the-sleeve music which provide a perfect
vehicle for violinist Salerno-Sonnenberg, who likes the large gesture,
the impassioned phrase, and the romantic sweep that each of the Brahms
and Tchaikovsky pieces delivers. Recorded early January-March 1993, the
two trios combine musical acumen and emotional brio to a high degree.
The intensity and electric verve the principals share is most palpable;
and admirers of the Tchaikovsky Piano Trio (1882), written as an elegy
for Nicholas Rubinstein, receives a grand reading, certainly rivaling
the Sony recording Pletnev and Oliveira participated in that still
remains unissued on CD.

Pianist Cecil Licad has her own mighty moments to shine, which she does
in an expansive manner for the opening theme, as well as in the
music-box variation (L’istesso tempo) and the pursuant waltz. Antonio
Meneses, a student of Antonio Janigro and the 1982 winner of the
Tchaikovsky Competition, could not be more at home than among the
blazing pages of the Trio, where his 1698 Guarneri instrument can sing
rapturously.  Hornist john Camarino is a pupil of the New York
Philharmonic’s talented and willful James Chambers. His rounded tones
perfectly complement Salerno-Sonnenberg and Licad in the Brahms Trio
(1865), itself an elegy to the composer’s own mother. The tempo and
phrasing of the performance remind me much of the approach Szigeti,
Barrows, and Horszowski took for their exemplary Mercury recording,
another masterful inscription yet to be reissued on CD. The forwardness
of the acoustic on Salerno-Sonnenberg’s violin may occasionally hint at
the Heifetz aesthetic, which turned every ensemble piece into a
showcase for violin, but I find the balances appropriate, Licad’s piano
often present in shimmering relief. The hunting motifs which dominate
the Scherzo and Finale bounce with gusto and have bravura wizardry to
spare. Solid musicianship; a happy pairing of ensembles.

–Gary Lemco

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