WORKS: Piano Quartet No. 2; Piano Trio No. 1
PERFORMER: Beaux Arts Trio with Lawrence Dutton (viola)
CATALOGUE NO: 434 071-2 DDD
The recordings of these two works are bright, clear, and realistically balanced, and the performances do full justice to an intriguing and ill-represented corner of the repertory. Despite being the earlier of the two pieces, the Saint-Saëns Trio is in many respects the more challenging, both to the listener and, I suspect, the players. Saint-Saëns shies away from the big tunes and grand declamatory gestures – the music is intimate and episodic – but the performers breathe into it a rare vitality.
The Fauré is in a grander tradition, laced throughout with the subtle harmonic digressions that are so much a part of his style. The texture is more unified, the feeling more deeply Romantic, and less obviously French. If it sounds at times a little like Brahms with a whiff of garlic and pastis, it is nonetheless a persuasive and highly enjoyable performance.Christopher Lambton