Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky, Alexander Alyabyev, Sergey Taneyev|
Great Russian Piano Trios [Box Set]
DAVID BRYSON | Glossop Derbyshire England | 10/13/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If this item is what it ought to be, it is a 4-disc set and has been available for some time. What it contains is the two trios by Rachmaninov, the second trio of Shostakovich and the works in this form by Tchaikovsky, Alyabiev, Taneyev and Arensky. The fourth disc comprises the Arensky and Shostakovich trios from the Amsterdam players (with different pianists in each), and the performers elsewhere are the Borodin Trio.
Given the interest of the music, the quality of the performances, the value offered and the attractive presentation, I very much want to award the set 5 stars. However I have to start with a significant warning. At the beginning of both the second and third discs in my copies there is some kind of fault, the kind of thing we used to term a `pressing fault' in the old vinyl days. I have cleaned both the laser lens and the discs with proper commercial products for that purpose, but I still can't shift the problem. It may be that it is restricted to my own set, but as the box is apparently being reissued I have to suspect that it may be more general, so be careful over which issue you order.
Tchaikovsky's trio is likely to be the most familiar to the majority of collectors. It is a famously beautiful work, and this is an extremely beautiful performance. On the other hand it is not exactly succinct, and the Borodin Trio do not attempt to hurry it along, taking well over 20 minutes for the first movement alone. My own patience is easily up to this challenge, but if your main interest is this trio in particular may I direct your attention to an alternative account by the Suk Trio, dating from 1977 and very well recorded (at least on vinyl). This offers a less dreamy and more mouvemente view of the piece, and I admit that I prefer it, but it does not seem to be very easy to find at the moment. Longueurs are also in evidence in Taneyev's trio. The liner-note writer faults the second and third movements for lack of memorable themes, but claims that Taneyev at least handles the variation-scheme more `economically' than Tchaikovsky does. Considering that Tchaikovsky takes nearly half an hour over his variations this would not be difficult, I suppose. Myself, I thought Taneyev's theme with its ostinato bass very effective, but he outstays his welcome from me as the variations develop. This movement takes half as long again as the back of the disc-envelope says it does. In fact the timings given for this disc are completely haywire, and there is at least one similar error on the Rachmaninov disc.
Rachmaninov's 3-movement trio is fairly well known, but it is a pleasure to welcome the single-movement G minor trio dating from his student days and long left unpublished. In terms of precocious development as a composer Rachmaninov was not far behind Mendelssohn, and before I listened I was delighted to see the indication `lento lugubre'. He knows how to do them lenti lububri, does Rachmaninov, but I would call the piece soulful rather than lugubrious. Arensky's entry is melodious and attractive, and so is that of Alyabiev, a contemporary of Weber. For some reason poor Alyabiev is ignored in the liner-note, which is a particular pity given the early date of the work, before a distinctively Russian school of composition had got under way. The Taneyev is stronger on effects and instrumental timbre than on tunes, reminding me of Medtner to that extent, but well worth inclusion all the same. Shostakovich's second is a fine and characteristic effort, and not one of his most challenging for the listener.
The performances are of high quality throughout. The recorded sound is a little variable, but never less than good and perhaps best on the final disc. The liner-note, for all its various quirks, is helpful in providing information on what is largely unfamiliar music. Assuming that this set is what I think it is, and in the fervent hope that the gremlins have been exorcised from the second and third discs, this is an issue that I can recommend warmly. The Brilliant Classics label is one that I am learning to welcome with confidence on each fresh release, not least in terms of brilliant value for outlay."