Debussy: Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune; Dukas: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice; Ravel: La Valse; Schoenberg: Verklärte Nacht
Linos Piano Trio
CAvi-music AVI 8553035 65:04 mins
The challenges of reducing well-known orchestral music for the more intimate combination of piano trio are considerable. It’s true that Beethoven managed to create a very effective transcription of his own Second Symphony. But when you are faced with arranging works such as Ravel’s La Valse and Dukas’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, both of which exploit such a huge range of timbres and encompass vast extremes in dynamic levels, any reduction in instrumental texture could easily dampen the overall impact of each work.
It’s a tribute to the imagination and resourcefulness of the Linos Piano Trio’s arrangements, not to mention their superbly characterised playing, that at no time did I feel short-changed or wish that I was hearing these works in their original orchestral garb. Perhaps at the final explosive climax to the Ravel, the piano trio medium is stretched to its very limits. But in point of fact, the way the material is ingeniously deployed here is no different to that of the equivalent passage at the end of the composer’s own Piano Trio.
As well as the high-voltage performances of the Dukas and Ravel, this enterprising recital features a sensuous and deeply felt account of Debussy’s Prélude à l’Après-midi d’un faune and a compelling performance of Steuermann’s arrangement of Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht, notable both for its impeccable balance between the piano and solo strings and its totally convincing handling of Richard Dehmel’s tortured dramatic narrative.