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  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


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Gabriel FAURÉ (1845 – 1924)
Piano Trio in D minor Op.120 (1923)
Claude DEBUSSY (1862 – 1918)

Piano Trio in G major (1880)
Joseph JONGEN (1883 – 1953)

Deux Pièces en trio Op.95 (1931)
Trio Grumiaux (Philippe Koch, violin; Luc Dewez, cello; Luc Devos, piano)
Recorded: Studio Toots, Brussels, November 2002
KLARA MMP 036 [62:40]


Debussy’s Piano Trio in G major is one of his earliest works, written when he was barely eighteen. It was long taken for granted that this was definitively lost until it was found again, almost a century after its completion. At the time, Debussy composed the Trio, he was – as it were – a member of Nadejda von Meck’s household acting as a pianist. Mrs. Von Meck wrote about him to Tchaikovsky praising his newly composed trio. Not unsurprisingly, this youthful work, for all its technical competence, only briefly points towards Debussy’s mature style. Some of the music is fairly indebted to Franck (particularly so in the outer movements) and at times bears the imprint of Fauré. Debussy, however, already briefly comes into his own in the delightful Scherzo intermezzo. The other movements, as already mentioned, are somewhat more traditional in style and outlook, although the work – as a whole – is quite attractive in its own right.

In total contrast, Fauré’s Piano Trio in D minor Op.120, completed in 1923, is actually his penultimate completed work, a commission from his publisher. This magnificent work is one of Fauré’s sunniest achievements and clearly the product of the composer’s late maturity. The music unfolds with consummate ease, melodies flow in complete freedom though everything is tightly held together. The more remarkable characteristics of this marvellous piece are, I think, its melodic fluidity, its harmonic subtlety and its formal elegance.

Jongen actually composed two different sets of Pièces en trio: Op.80 for flute,harp and cello (available on CYPRES CYP 1632 recently reviewed here) and the present Op.95 for violin, cello and piano. This was completed in 1931 and thus belongs to Jongen’s full maturity. The first panel is a beautiful Nocturne whereas the second is a lively Allegro of great verve.

Guido Defever’s excellent notes are subtitled Youth, maturity and melancholy. This of course has more than a grain of truth, although it might be added that there is nothing morbid about Fauré’s melancholy as expressed in his late Piano Trio. These works, in spite of their differences, make for a quite unified programme since Jongen’s musical roots clearly stem from Fauré, Debussy and Ravel whom he admired and who had a lasting influence on his music making, although his music never slavishly imitates that of the French composers.

Beautifully poised performances by the members of the Trio Grumiaux. I thoroughly enjoyed this attractive release from first to last. Well worth having.

Hubert Culot



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