Bridge: Piano Trio No. 2; Phantasie Trio in C minor; Nine Miniatures

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COMPOSERS: Bridge
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: Piano Trio No. 2; Phantasie Trio in C minor; Nine Miniatures
PERFORMER: Jack Liebeck (violin), Ashley Wass (piano); Alexander Chaushian (cello)
CATALOGUE NO: Naxos 8.570792

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Frank Bridge’s two piano trios make a natural coupling. The 1907 Phantasie Trio is a prime example of the ruggedly mellifluous chamber style of his early years (the four parts of its ‘phantasie’ form are usefully tracked separately on this CD). The much larger Trio No. 2 (1928-29), on the other hand, is an austere, haunted masterpiece in his later idiom: its eerie opening at once plunges one into an entirely different sound-world. It could be counted one of the most important works for the medium of the first half of the 20th century.

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The players on this new disc, including noted Bridge specialist Ashley Wass as pianist, understand these widely divergent idioms perfectly, and display some superb ensemble playing: their account of the Molto allegro of Trio No. 2 – at once feather-light and sinister – is nothing other than a joy to hear. There is an excellent competing version of both trios, in not quite as good sound, from the Dartington Trio (Helios CDH 55063), who also offer Bridge’s Phantasie Piano Quartet. The Naxos players couple the Trios very valuably with all three sets (nine pieces in all) of Bridge’s 1908 Miniatures for piano trio. They are delightful, deftly written character pieces that are intended for young or amateur players, but well worth the skill and care lavished on them by the players here. Calum MacDonald