WORKS: Elegiac Trio No. 1 in G minor; Piano Trio; Trio No. 2 in E minor
PERFORMER: Rachmaninov Trio
CATALOGUE NO: 3-6400-2
The first of Rachmaninov’s two Elegiac Trios is a single-movement student work from 1892, apparently an abstract exercise – unlike the more expansive second of a year later, written in memory of Tchaikovsky. The second of Shostakovich’s two trios was written in 1944, in the dark days of the Second World War; it is coloured in the ‘grimly gay’ finale by the distinctive patterns of Jewish folk music. The rarity in this programme is the Trio by Shostakovich’s pupil Georgy Sviridov, written in 1945, though revised ten years later. It is an accomplished work, which maintains the Russian tradition of elegiac trios by including among its four movements both an Elegy and a Funeral March; even the final Idyll ends in gentle melancholy.
The Rachmaninov Trio consists of a Russian violinist and cellist and an American pianist, all now based in Scotland. Their playing is clean, clear and carefully shaped. But there are some lapses in string intonation under pressure; and the violinist’s silvery tone quality seems incapable of expanding to any great breadth, resulting in constrained climaxes and a general pulling of punches. The piano-heavy recording does not rectify the imbalance. Overall, despite the interest of the Sviridov, a disappointment. Anthony Burton