Piano Quintet in G minor, Op. 57*; Seven Romances on Poems of Alexander Blok, Op. 127**
**Ekaterina Semenchuk (mezzo-soprano); *Catherine Montier (violin), *Christophe Gaugue (viola); Trio Wanderer
Harmonia Mundi HMM902289 56:35 mins
Trio Wanderer have already established outstanding credentials in Shostakovich with their superb recording of the two Piano Trios. This warmly-engineered release, featuring the ensemble enlarged by violinist Catherine Montier and violist Christophe Gaugué in the Piano Quintet of 1940, consolidates this reputation with a performance that is comprehensively responsive to the various different strands in the work. In a relatively unmannered interpretation, the Wanderers negotiate the Quintet’s complex narrative with total conviction as they move almost seamlessly from the austere Bachian neo-Classicism of the opening Prelude and Fugue to the boisterous circus music in the third movement and the romantic intensity of the ensuing Lento. The emotionally ambiguous Finale, juxtaposing passages of childlike nostalgia with more destabilising reminiscences of earlier material, leaving many darker undercurrents unresolved, is particularly strong.
The Seven Romances on Poems by Alexander Blok for mezzo-soprano and piano trio, composed 27 years after the Quintet, is yet more compelling. This profoundly moving work was written especially for Galina Vishnevskaya whose world premiere recording, with an all-star line-up of David Oistrakh, Mstislav Rostropovich and Mieczysław Weinberg. remains the benchmark. Yet Eketarina Semenchuk is no less responsive to the subtle nuances of Blok’s poetry and Shostakovich’s highly expressive vocal writing, and the individual members of Trio Wanderer capture the cycle’s contrasting moods of despair, passion, violence, mystery and gentle lyricism with playing of magnetic power and imagination.