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Weinberg: Piano Trio; Cello Sonata, etc

Trio Khnopff (Pavane)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

Piano Trio; Cello Sonata No. 1; Two Songs Without Words for violin and piano; Rhapsody on Moldavian Themes
Trio Khnopff; Stéphanie Salmin (piano)
Pavane ADW 7590   71:32 mins


After suffering decades of neglect, Mieczysław Weinberg’s astonishing Piano Trio is at last getting the due recognition in the concert hall and the recording studio that it surely deserves. This year alone, there have been as many as six new recordings of the work to add to the two or three that have already been in the catalogue for some years.

Making a choice as to the most satisfying version of the Trio might depend as much on the rest of the programme offered in these recordings as on the respective merits of each performance. An obvious coupling is Shostakovich’s Second Piano Trio, completed a year before the Weinberg. However, the Trio Khnopff are far more enterprising, placing the work alongside other compositions that Weinberg wrote following the end of the Second World War. This autobiographical context, highlighted by David Fanning in his illuminating booklet notes, inflects the performance which has a real edge and encompasses the Trio’s troubled emotional trajectory, from the anguished declamatory recitatives of the ‘Poem’ to the brutal war machine of the ‘Toccata’ and the relentless fugal episode in the Finale, with devastating impact.

Inevitably the rest of the programme can’t reach the same levels of intensity. Nonetheless, Romain Dhainaut and Stéphanie Salmin deliver an eloquent and poetic account of the First Cello Sonata. Violinist Sadie Fields also makes a strong impression, shaping the recently discovered Two Songs without Words with tenderness and subtlety of phrasing. She ends the disc on a high with a brilliant performance of the Rhapsody on Moldavian Themes, a real showstopper that would make an excellent companion piece to Ravel’s Tzigane.


Erik Levi