Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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Len Mullenger:

ARTHUR FOOTE (1853-1937) Piano Trio No. 1 in c minor (1884) DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH Piano Trio No. 2 Serafino Trio   rec Palma de Mallorca - 17-21 December 1999 SERAFINO TRIO (no number) CD available from the artists. Distribution via [60 mins]

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For what seems to be a first CD the Serafino Trio have not played safe in selecting repertoire. The Shostakovich is close to the mainstream but not 'safe'.

As for the Foote, while the Second Trio was available on the North-eastern label during the 1990s this disc seems to represent the first trio's first recording on CD. Its idiom is a grown-up blend of Mendelssohn with a major infusion of Dvorák. The cello's role is richly taken by David Runnion but both Jennifer Peck (violin) and Suzanne Bradbury (piano) register strongly in this late classical era appassionata work. There is no hint of the run-through about this. Indeed I had the impression (possibly wrongly) that they had played this work in concert so well integrated does the performance appear to be. I specially noted the hell-for-leather dash of the Allegro vivace. Imagine if you will Dvorák's Cello Concerto, the Brahms Double Concerto and hints of the Mendelssohn Octet and you will get some idea of what to expect. The pliant and responsive tenderness of the adagio molto is also notable. A most enjoyable experience.

The Shostakovich is a familiar work: a twentieth century classic. Its spiritual opening takes us into Tavener and Pärt realms, while the second movement's convulsive brio takes us as close to delight as Shostakovich comes and the piano playing here is breathtaking. The funereal pace of the largo is Bachian but in a most imposing woebegone slow motion akin to the Preludes and Fugues. The turbid conflict of the finale find no punches pulled by the artist. The atmosphere mixes a Klezmer violin style with the extremes of emotional conflict. The artists do nothing to soften the conflict and yet the lyricism is there in full flood. A most impressive event.

Concert promoters would do well to hear this disc. If the trio have not yet appeared at London's Wigmore or Queen Elizabeth halls then they should be given the opportunity and for heaven's sake let them loose on the Foote and don't force them down the hum-drum route of 'safe' repertoire.

Perhaps there is some hope that David Runnion can get hold of the Arthur Foote Cello Concerto (1893) score and parts perhaps from the Free Library at Philadelphia. This, together with the Foote Cello Sonata (1910s) would make an ideal coupling. Foote's Francesca da Rimini and Four Character Pieces after Omar Khayyam both colourful vital orchestral scores from the 1890s are also well worth seeking out.

A most engaging disc and one with both promise for the future and immediate access to two vivid musical experiences. If there is a downside to the disc it is a slight sense of congested claustrophobia sensed during the most intense musical passages. Otherwise the recording seems to do fine justice to these artists. I hope they will now delve deeper into the rare trio repertoire.


Rob Barnett

The Serafino Trio are based in Spain and can be contacted for copies of this CD and for other information. The Trio can be contacted at c/Formentera, 8-1 07013, Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, SPAIN
Phone/fax (34) 971 793 714

[The cover was scanned from a disc supplied by the trio - not the mp3 version. The Opus number is incorrect for the Shostakovich which should be Op. 67]


Rob Barnett

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