WORKS: Trio pathétique in D minor
PERFORMER: Moscow Rachmaninov Trio
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67216
The Moscow Rachmaninov Trio is more generous than most ensembles in offering a bonus to go with Tchaikovsky’s long Piano Trio. Having said that, Glinka’s Trio pathétique is not all that interesting – four movements played without a break that could be a useful 15-minute filler for piano trios to have up their sleeve, but not one to pull out from there too often.
The Tchaikovsky Trio is a different affair. Written after the sudden death of the composer’s friend Nicolai Rubinstein, it is no simple wooden cross, but a huge marble mausoleum of three movements lasting 50 minutes. The Moscow Rachmaninov Trio opts to open with a comparatively swift tempo that risks sounding hard-driven and no-nonsense – a sort of bury-him-and-be-done-with-it approach. The point of this may have been to establish a contrast with the theme’s recapitulation nearly halfway through the movement, which is performed with all the gravity that was previously omitted, but a strong case could be made for a moderating third way.
The second movement – a massive set of variations including a waltz, a fugue and a haunting elegy – is more successful, and gives the Moscow Rachmaninov Trio a chance to demonstrate what a versatile and capable ensemble they are. The trio ends with a whirlwind race through the Variation, Finale and Coda, seemingly remembering Rubinstein’s dancing days before it closes with a sombre funeral march. An attractive alternative is Zertsalova, Oistrakh and Altman, who play with great feeling without resorting to deep mourning. Christopher Wood