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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


PIANO TRIOS
Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992)
The Four Seasons (version for Piano Trio by J. Bragato)

Daniel SCHNYDER (b.1961)
Piano Trio (1999/2000)
Charles IVES (1874-1954)
Piano Trio (1904/1911)
Zürcher Klaviertrio
(Gabriel Adorján, violin; Joël Marosi, cello; Christiane Frucht, piano)
Recorded at the Grosser Sendesaal/Funkhaus WDR, Cologne, February 27th - March 2nd 2001.
CLAVES CD 50-2106 [72.21]
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A typically innovative piece of programming by Claves brings together music by three composers who are "bound by their capacity to work with stylistically very diverse musical material without fear of venturing into the realms of jazz, popular or folk music". Thus we encounter the four seasons of Argentina cast as four related tangos by Astor Piazzolla (Gidon Kremer has also recorded this piece in a different arrangement), Daniel Schnyder's recent homage to, among other things, "funk", and, last and certainly not least the great Charles Ives in typical iconoclastic traditionalist mode.

Piazzolla's work is perhaps more subdued and subtle than the uninitiated might be expecting. He said himself that his "nuevo (new) tango" was not to be sung or danced and here the mood is primarily reflective and quite inward looking, sometimes particularly searching when the cello takes the lead. The four sections/seasons are musically related and the only criticism I would make is that perhaps that the material is overlong for its variety. However, it is not a bad introduction to this unusual composer, if not quite as eye-opening as his collaborations with the Kronos Quartet.

Schnyder writes some very interesting notes in the booklet about his composition. This four part work includes a driving first movement, a very short scherzo and a finale to be played at Tempo di Funk. Don't, however, doubt the seriousness - the mentions of Bartok and minimalism (as influences/antecedents?) are both valid and apt. The young composer divides his time between Switzerland and New York and it is easy to see the effect the energy of the latter has had on his music.

Ives is very much a touchstone for many modern performers and composers alike; I wouldn't necessarily recommend the beginner to start with the trio recorded here but nevertheless it is very characteristic in several ways. It is not as immediately accessible as, say, the first quartet or third symphony, but an easier point of entrance than some of the piano music or the violin sonatas. The second movement is entitled TSIAJ (This Scherzo is a Joke) - because it juxtaposes 20 folk/popular tunes onto each other - it is, however, still eminently (surprisingly?) listenable and illustrates perfectly the influence of both the vernacular and the desire to break down barriers on Ives's muse. The extended finale sees Ives in another highly idiomatic context, bringing in the revival songs familiar to him from his very specific time and place of composition (New England, in the milieu of church revival meetings but also the (still Christian based) transcendentalism of the likes of Whitman, the Alcotts etc). I love Ives's music - it is often challenging, almost never dull and touches so many important bases while stimulating both mind and soul.

The performances here by the young Zürcher Klaviertrio are both well prepared and recorded - they get to the heart of the music they are playing and prove excellent advocates for it in the process. The Ives, if not one of his absolute masterpieces, is brilliant and, if you don't already have his trio elsewhere, certainly recommends this CD to you. Taken as a whole the disc is well worth acquiring - recommended without reservation.

Neil Horner

 

 


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FREE SOUND SAMPLES
(minimum 30 secs)

A. PIAZZOLLA
The Four Seasons

Primavera Portena (Spring in Buenos Aires)
Verano Porteno (Summer in Buenos Aires)
Otono Porteno (Autumn in Buenos Aires)
Invierno Porteno (Winter in Buenos Aires)

D. SCHNYDER
Piano Trio

Movement 1
Movement 2
Scherzo. Commodo. Schweizerland
Very fast. Tempo di Funk

C. IVES
Trio for Piano, Violin and Cello

Moderato
TSIAJ (This Scherzo is a joke) Presto
Moderato con moto







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