Shostakovich, Bloch, Martin

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Bloch,Martin,Shostakovich
WORKS: Piano Trios, Opp. 8 & 67
With so many Shostakovich Piano Trio recordings in the catalogue, the Grieg Trio have wisely couple theirs with two relatively unknown works, Frank Martin’s Trio on Irish folktunes, and Ernest Bloch’s Three Nocturnes – both written in the same year as Shostakovich’s first piano trio. Inevitably, though, even Shostakovich’s slight student piece is a pithy masterpiece in comparison with the attractive offerings of the two, lesser composers. Yet these two works draw fine performances from the Grieg Trio. They enter stealthily into the sensuous and reflective world of Bloch’s Nocturnes. These miniatures lack the starkness of ‘From Jewish Life’ pieces for cello and piano, but are unmistakably informed by Jewish modes. Violinist Solve Sigerland has an apt, light touch for Martin’s seamlessly spinning Trio on Irish folktunes. The Shostakovich challenges them. His early trio is a fascinatingly schizophrenic gem: its outrageously romantic theme has the sublimity of one of Rachmaninov’s ‘love’ preludes, but it is spliced through with a seam of savagery to match any of his later chamber works. The Griegs’ performance is by turns lyrically generous, and generates sinister excitement with speed and incisive attack. In the second trio, pianist Vebjorn Anvik’s rubato begins to become manneristic, and Sigerland is not always absolutely secure, and has a habit of crushing some rhythmic figures. He sometimes depth of tone, while cellist Ellen Margrett Flesjo also has to work hard to project. This doesn’t oust by Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Shosatkovich disc, but it is one of the Grieg’s best recordings, after their rather hectic Brahms of 1997, showing how they are maturing as an ensemble. Helen Wallace