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Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Trio for piano, violin and cello in A Minor (1914) [25:43]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Trio No. 2 in E flat major D929 (1827) [42:23]

Icicle Creek Piano Trio: Jennifer Caine (violin); Sally Singer (cello); Oksana Ezhokina (piano)
rec. February 2008
Experience Classicsonline

There’s no particular programming agenda here, just a coupling of two canonic trios. The performers are the young Icicle Creek Piano Trio, an international threesome resident in
Leavenworth, Washington. They’ve been accorded a warm acoustic, wherever it was - it’s not noted, though maybe around Seattle? - that isn’t diffuse and captures the tonal qualities of all three adeptly. 

Their Ravel is mellifluous and full of keen vigour. It’s neither as punchy nor as quick as, say, the Bell-Isserlis-Thibaudet trio on Decca 425860-2 to furnish just one example of a somewhat older but still comparably youthful band of brothers. Nor are they as big-toned. The string players cultivate a variegated but essentially smaller scaled approach, and they do play the Pantoum second movement with requisite brightness though not at quite as much of a lick, or quite as joyfully, as some of their competitors. This however is of a piece with the performance as a whole, where they tend to prefer slightly more relaxed tempi; the Passacaille for instance is taken well and steadily. 

The coupling could hardly be more central to the repertoire than Schubert’s E flat major trio, which is far more so than the Ravel a cornerstone of every piano trio’s work list. This receives a humane, sane and essentially clear-eyed reading. Once again they prefer tonal subtlety to sonority. The cello’s song in the slow movement is warmly played and devoid of ancillary and discursive, disruptive rubati. The result is a reading of attractively smaller-scaled precision and refinement. 

This is intelligent, acute music-making and reveals the group to be three accomplished young chamber musicians. With the pleasing acoustic into the bargain this disc serves notice of their strengths. If you enjoy the idea of their less high calorific approach then you will find the performances congenial. 

Jonathan Woolf




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