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
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.
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]