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Beach • R Clarke • Ives: Piano Trios

Gould Piano Trio (Resonus)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Beach • R Clarke • Ives
Beach: Piano Trio in A minor, Op. 150; Ives: Trio for Violin, Cello and Piano; R Clarke: Piano Trio
Gould Piano Trio
Resonus RES10264   60:12 mins


On the booklet cover, the cables and brickwork of the Brooklyn Bridge, topped by a small American flag, leap out at the prospective listener. Americana obviously must lie within.

And so it does, albeit none of it particularly rooted in New York City. Especially American in flavour is Charles Ives’s Piano Trio from the 1900s, supposedly a musical portrait of the composer’s student days at Yale. If so, little solitary studying seems to have been done, though the music suggests plenty of philosophical discourse, followed by singing, drinking and other fraternity capers, all conveyed in a typical musical fabric of tangled textures and jostled quotations that Ives made his own. The Gould Piano Trio, none of whose players went to Yale, pile into it with the vim and precision expected from this esteemed group, its players all well established as loving devotees of the trio format and for the resurrection of music relatively unknown.

With nine previous recordings, the Anglo-American Rebecca Clarke’s magnificent Piano Trio of 1921 can’t exactly be called unknown, but its gripping progress and harmonic asperity, haunted by a rat-tat-tat motif suggesting the ghostly echo of a bugle reveille from the Great War, still deserves a wider audience. Amy Beach’s late Trio of 1938 springs its own surprise, with the Brahmsian expanse of earlier works replaced by a meditative, concise kaleidoscope, flecked with quotations from Inuit folk songs.

In each work, Lucy Gould (violin), Richard Lester (cello) and Benjamin Frith (piano) display lyrical beauty, burning brio and an awesome degree of ensemble spirit, especially clear in fast tempos.

So a splendid package in all – thanks to all concerned, including, of course, the Brooklyn Bridge.


Geoff Brown