trickle of new recordings are appearing in this centenary
year of the death of the works of Russian composer, conductor
and pianist, Anton Arensky, pupil and protégé of Rimsky-Korsakov
and teacher of harmony and counterpoint to, among others,
Rachmaninov and Scriabin at St Petersburg Conservatory.
delightful Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor is probably his best
known and best loved creation.
this new recording, compared with that by the Borodin Trio
on Chandos CHAN 8477 (1987) disappoints. The Borodin Trio’s
ensemble playing is so much more elegant. The lovely Elegia,
Adagio movement which is the heart of the work, in the
hands of the Borodin players, is exquisitely refined: sweet
and haunting. The Escher Trio’s playing is not nearly as
transporting. The Escher’s Scherzo is jolly and bouncing
but it takes the Borodin to reveal its finesse and delicacy.
have it on good authority that the 1982 CRD 3409 recording
coupling the Arensky Trio with the Rimsky-Korsakov Quintet
is also splendid and worth considering if you do not want
the Glinka as a filler as on the Chandos recording.
Wolfgang Korngold, until the 1980s, only for his Warner Bros
film scores, was a child prodigy. His considerable non-film
music output included operas, orchestral, instrumental and
chamber music and songs. Korngold’s Piano Trio is interesting
because it was written when he was only 12, an incredible
achievement, considering its complexity. It certainly impressed
because it was premiered by Bruno Walter, Arnold Rosé and
youthful Escher Trio responds enthusiastically to its outer
movements’ overt lyricism and assertiveness. They attack
the playful yet demanding harmonic and rhythmic twists of
the variations that comprise the Scherzo - relaxing into
the tenderness at its centre. But, as far as the emotional
Larghetto is concerned - and elsewhere - there is that much
more warmth shown by the soloists of the New York Philharmonic
Orchestra (Glenn Dicterow (violin), Alan Stepansky (cello)
and Israela Margalit (piano)) in the rival EMI 5554012
recording of this Korngold Trio.
Escher’s Arensky Trio offers lots of attack but lacks warmth.
Try the Borodin Trio’s inspired reading of the Arensky on
Chandos and, for the Korngold, the soloists of the New York
Philharmonic Orchestra on EMI.