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Arensky • Shostakovich: Piano Trios etc

Trio Con Brio Copenhagen (Orchid Classics)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

Arensky • Shostakovich
Arensky: Piano Trio No. 1; Shostakovich: Piano Trios Nos 1 & 2
Trio Con Brio Copenhagen
Orchid Classics ORC100181   69:50 mins

Ghosts haunt all three piano trios in this well-planned triptych, even in the one which isn’t a memorial – Shostakovich’s original early work first titled Poeme and celebrating a star-crossed teenage love with Tatyana Glivenko. What connects this, the Arensky C minor Trio and the masterpiece Shostakovich composed just over two decades after his first essay in the format, is the winged delivery of the Korean sisters Soo-Jin (violin) and Soo-Kyung Hong (cello) with the latter’s husband, Danish pianist Jens Elvekjaer. The later Shostakovich trio isn’t the usual hard-hitter, at least until we come to the holocaust of Jewish themes at the finale’s heart; the scherzo is fast and light, though with sudden shocks from the swelling grimaces, and in both outer movements the astonishing sophistication of these players registers in split-second drop-backs to pianissimo.

Just as Shostakovich brings back his slow-movement chords at a late stage in the finale, so Arensky recalls the radiance at the heart of his Adagio before bringing back his opening lament. From the way these visions are so ethereally delivered here, you get the sense that the recently deceased cellist Carl Davydov meant as much to Arensky as musicologist and polymath Ivan Sollertinsky did to Shostakovich. The lyric inspiration really flows, with the rich but never over-resonant acoustic of the Royal Danish Academy of Music Concert Hall giving space to each player’s special beauty of tone. While I’ve heard performances of Arensky’s work before which didn’t engrave it on the memory, the Copenhagen trio truly make it live. I won’t forget this disc.

David Nice