Ravel • Debussy • Fauré
Nowhere is Fauré’s late style more manifest than in the Piano Trio (1922-3), his penultimate work before the final String Quartet. Ideas drift in and out, sometimes shared between the instruments, sometimes not, while keys are abandoned as soon as reached until we arrive at the final haven. I’ve often found the work hard listening. But here the obscurities melt away, such is the entente between the players and their understanding of Fauré’s elliptical syntax. Arnon Erez’s clean piano playing is a great help throughout, allowing us to hear the lines and not confusing the ear with any Impressionist mush.
Equally direct and strong is their performance of the Ravel Trio. The text they play is based on the autograph rather than on the 1915 first edition. This is not the place to discuss the textual problems surrounding the Trio; suffice to say that the ‘Pantoum’, where they mostly occur, is despatched with tremendous brio, and I would imagine that only Ravel specialists would be concerned over a version that makes the string parts slightly harder and the piano one slightly easier. I was initially worried by Erez’s rubato in the Trio’s opening statement, but soon came to realise that this was merely a ‘tenderising’ of the Basque theme, very effective too, and not a signal for rhythmic licence elsewhere. The two Debussy sonatas are likewise admirable, true both to letter and spirit. The recording is excellent, with Raphael Wallfisch’s pianissimos to die for.