There’s no particular programming agenda here, just a coupling
of two canonic trios. The performers are the young Icicle Creek
Piano Trio, an international threesome resident in Leavenworth, Washington. They’ve been accorded a warm acoustic, wherever it
was - it’s not noted, though maybe around Seattle? - that isn’t diffuse and captures the tonal qualities
of all three adeptly.
Ravel is mellifluous and full of keen vigour. It’s neither
as punchy nor as quick as, say, the Bell-Isserlis-Thibaudet
trio on Decca 425860-2 to furnish just one example of a somewhat
older but still comparably youthful band of brothers. Nor
are they as big-toned. The string players cultivate a variegated
but essentially smaller scaled approach, and they do play
the Pantoum second movement with requisite brightness
though not at quite as much of a lick, or quite as joyfully,
as some of their competitors. This however is of a piece with
the performance as a whole, where they tend to prefer slightly
more relaxed tempi; the Passacaille for instance is
taken well and steadily.
coupling could hardly be more central to the repertoire than
Schubert’s E flat major trio, which is far more so than the
Ravel a cornerstone of every piano trio’s work list. This
receives a humane, sane and essentially clear-eyed reading.
Once again they prefer tonal subtlety to sonority. The cello’s
song in the slow movement is warmly played and devoid of ancillary
and discursive, disruptive rubati. The result is a reading
of attractively smaller-scaled precision and refinement.
is intelligent, acute music-making and reveals the group to
be three accomplished young chamber musicians. With the pleasing
acoustic into the bargain this disc serves notice of their
strengths. If you enjoy the idea of their less high calorific
approach then you will find the performances congenial.