Widor: Piano Trio in B flat, Op. 19; Piano Quintet in D minor, Op. 7

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WORKS: Piano Trio in B flat, Op. 19; Piano Quintet in D minor, Op. 7
PERFORMER: Ilona Prunyi (piano); New Budapest Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: 8.555416
It’s bad enough being a one-work composer; for the vast majority of musicians and music lovers poor Charles-Marie Widor is only a one-movement composer. But as anyone who has taken the trouble to explore further than the famous Toccata finale of the Fifth Organ Symphony (terror of church organists throughout the land) will know, Widor had a firm sense of musical architecture, a lively imagination and a gift for romantically appealing melody. Those attributes are all on display in these two chamber works. It’s harder though to find evidence of a truly distinctive voice. The style could be glibly summed up as Schumann crossed with Saint-Saëns, except that the invention is rarely quite as strong as Schumann – or as Saint-Saëns at his best. And if you don’t know the Piano Trio or the piano quintets of Fauré, go straight there – don’t stop for Widor along the way. Still, both these works are played with feeling and some refinement, and the recordings are convincingly balanced (never easy with piano against solo strings). Strictly for specialists. Stephen Johnson