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COMPOSERS: Debussy/Ravel/Schmitt
WORKS: Piano Trio in G; Piano Trio; Très lent
PERFORMER: Joachim Trio
Written for the house musicians of Nadezhda von Meck (Tchaikovsky’s benefactress) while Debussy was still a student, his early Piano Trio is suffused with the spirit of Massenet. However, the harmonic freedom which caused exasperation in several of Debussy’s teachers is also beginning to flourish in this delectable unpublished early work. Despite an occasional thinness of string tone, the Joachim Trio conveys warmth, charm and an appropriate hint of youthful innocence.


By far the superior work, Ravel’s Trio was composed at the outbreak of war in 1914 and makes a predictable, though effective coupling. There is little which is innocent among its manifold changes of mood and the Joachims prove worthy advocates, rarely allowing Ravel’s assiduous attention to detail to obscure the overall intention. Consequently, the sense of a ‘performance’ is laudably strong, and Florent Schmitt’s subdued Très lent – a real rarity – acts as a calming encore after the ebullient conclusion to the Ravel. Further releases of French piano trios featuring Saint-Saëns and Chabrier can be expected from Naxos and, on the evidence of this first disc, it should prove to be a very rewarding series. Christopher Dingle