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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    



Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Trio for violin, horn and piano, Opus 40
György LIGETI (b. 1923)

Trio for violin, horn and piano (1982)
Danish Horn Trio
Rec October 1998 (Brahms), May 1999 (Ligeti), Vestkirken, Ballerup, Denmark
CHANDOS CHAN 9964 [55.02]


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Brahms's Horn Trio is rightly positioned in the central repertory of chamber music, despite its unusual instrumental combination. Other composers who have chosen to adopt the same scoring have done so in full knowledge that the Brahms piece forms a point of reference.

Ligeti was only too happy to follow this line when he composed his trio in 1982; not that the music sounds very Brahmsian - Ligeti is not the kind of composer to opt for mere pastiche - but the balancing and blending of the instruments does follow Brahms's preference for sane, beautifully sonorous developments. Perhaps it was composed as an antidote the intensely controversial opera Le grand macabre. The Trio is notable for its mellifluous tone, although of course there is no lack of challenge either, with subtle and telling clashes between the individual instrumental lines.

The significant part of the Ligeti Trio is surely the final movement, an Adagio lament, full of dark intensity, and perhaps therefore related to the Adagio mesto of the Brahms third movement ('mesto' means sad). Slow tempi offer many technical challenges to this particular instrumental combination, but the Danish Horn Trio - Christina Østrand (violin), Jakob Keiding (horn), Per Salo (piano) - triumph over all the obstacles, with a display of true virtuosity that makes the performances sound the most natural thing in the world. They are beautifully atmospheric in the slow music of both works.

The Brahms Trio is delivered with well chosen gradings of phrasing and tempo, suiting the sounds of the ensemble and bringing out its expressive trends and developmental lines. This is a most distinguished issue, and all praise to Chandos for sanctioning this imaginative combination of composers.

Terry Barfoot

 


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