CD Reviews | CTD (Briefly Noted) | JFL (Dip Your Ears) | DVD Reviews


Briefly Noted: A Trio of 20th-century Piano Trios

available at Amazon
Montsalvatge / Tailleferre / Korngold, Piano Trios, Andrist-Stern-Honigberg Trio

(released on August 4, 2023)
Centaur CRC4037 | 57'11"
Audrey Andrist has been a long-time fixture at Washington-area concerts, particularly in contemporary repertoire. The Canadian-born pianist plays often with her husband, violinist James Stern, as a duo and, with National Symphony Orchestra cellist Steven Honigberg, as the anchor of a rather fine piano trio.

While beautifully played, the new disc from the Andrist-Stern-Honigberg Trio, released by Centaur Records, is of interest primarily because of its intriguing combination of music. First is the Piano Trio by Xavier Montsalvatge, dating from the 1980s, when the Catalan composer was in his 70s. This suave, refined work, infused with jazz and folk elements, feels like a love letter to Spain. Its first movement is a "Balada a Dulcinea," infused with tender sweetness for Don Quixote's imagined sweetheart, followed by a "Diálogo con Mompou," referring to another composer, Montsalvatge's contemporary from Barcelona.

Adding to the recent rediscovery of Germaine Tailleferre's piano music is her Piano Trio, composed during World War I, when it went unnoticed and unpublished. The French composer took the piece up again in 1978, when she was in her 80s, and the revised version is a mixture of early and late styles, as she wrote a new second movement and added a fourth-movement finale. With each of the four movements clocking in at a balanced three minutes each, the piece has a pleasing unity.

Erich Korngold composed the final Piano Trio on this disc, the longest of the three works, when he was only twelve years old. The piece was among the fruit of his tutelage with Zemlinsky, study recommended by Gustav Mahler, who had heard a cantata the boy had written. A child prodigy, Korngold had already had a ballet score performed professionally in Vienna, and Artur Schnabel was performing his piano sonata around Europe. This trio is a tour de force for the pianist, and Andrist rises to the occasion, especially in the rollicking Scherzo, an hommage to the Viennese waltz redolent of both Strauss and Mahler.

No comments: