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Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Piano Trio in C minor, Op. 1, No. 3 [27:48]
Sergey RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)
Piano Trio in G minor “Élégiaque” [13:03]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Piano Trio in C minor, Op. 101 [21:28]
Trio Cracovia (Krzysztof Śmietana (violin); Julian Tryczyński (cello); Jerzy Tosik-Warszawiak (piano))
rec. Concert Hall Florianka of the Academy of Music, Krakow, Poland, January 2008

DUX 0626 [62:18]

Experience Classicsonline

I really enjoyed this CD of piano trios, finding the interpretations interesting and absorbing and the recorded sound very sympathetic to the needs of the players and the repertoire. I am acquainted with these lovely trios, but, until now, had never heard of the Trio Cracovia – let alone their performances or recordings. The otherwise very informative accompanying notes for the CD do not actually tell one much at all about them as an entity, but plenty about the musical and academic accomplishments of the three musicians, who are all teachers/professors/performers working at a very high level. They have made other recordings together.

Some reviewers like to compare recordings and, if one has one’s favourite recordings of certain works, it is sometimes difficult not to do this, but I prefer to take a tabula rasa approach, if possible. What we have here is not just three - well-known or otherwise! - musicians getting together for a recording; they sound, to me, as if they play regularly together and really know each other well and “mesh” stylistically, interpretatively and musically as a Trio.

The Trio Cracovia play with a full-blooded Eastern European style, with ongoing rhythm, clean, eloquent articulation and phrasing. They offer a very lively musical approach where the instruments blend and “sing” together, the musicians “giving and taking” and interacting so well together. The recorded sound is clear and has a nice “resonance” but is at the same time, immediate. The recordings were produced by Malgortzata Polańska.

The Beethoven trio is well-known and the Trio launch straight into their interpretation with a commanding style which immediately captures and holds one’s attention. The performance is well-prepared and the musicians play with total commitment and authority, making this a very interesting and enjoyable recording to which one can listen again and again – and still find absorbing.

The Rachmaninov has a totally different mien – more expansive, opening with a more sombre mood, with exquisite melodic themes with the instruments interweaving effortlessly, reminding me - as I listen to this on my car CD player - of the buzzards I see every day soaring in the thermals! This is very much Rachmaninov – the long sweeping melodies and textures, beautifully played with a lively “pulse”.

The Brahms Trio is almost a “mini-symphony” for this medium, with its powerful opening and “restless syncopated rhythm and forceful dynamics” - as the “sleeve note” aptly describe it!. The Trio members bring authority and variety to the little triplet figure which is the main feature of the opening theme and the austere harmonies, evoking the underlying melancholy atmosphere. The players capture the relative stillness of the lovely slow movement and then go on to the faster, more complex last movement with its churning theme and brilliance, bringing out the work’s pathos and drama.

Angela Boyd


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