Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Piano Trio in A minor (1914) [26:59]
Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975)
Piano Trio No. 2 in E minor (1944) [26:41]
Trio Mondrian (Ohad Ben-Ari (piano); Daniel Bard (violin); Hila Karni (cello))
rec. Siemens-Villa, Berlin, 10-12 August 2011
The Trio Mondrian’s approach to the Ravel Trio is fresh and spontaneous. All three soloists clearly love this enchanting, untroubled work begun in 1914 just as the shadows of the Great War closed in. All three soloists are perfectly attuned to each other and blend sensitively to deliver a richly nuanced and shaded reading. Their dreamily romantic first Modéré movement is nicely sculpted. Pantoum, the second movement’s, diverse rhythms - exotic and high-spirited - are conveyed in joyful attack while the third movement, cast in the shape of a Passacaglia, and led by the piano followed by the cello and violin proceeds in melancholy dignity. The demanding Finale marked Animé, with tinges of chinoiserie is a brilliant and sweeping creation. How these young artists relish its high-spirited essence. This is a first class interpretation that can compare well with any other presently in the catalogue.
Shostakovich’s Second Piano Trio is a more profound work. Like his 1962 Symphony No. 13 (Babi Yar) and his 1948 song cycle From Jewish Poetry, this work, shows his sympathy for the Jewish people: their culture and their sufferings particularly at the hands of the Nazis in World War II and under the Soviet regime. The Mondrian Trio, with their Israeli links, clearly empathise strongly and their interpretation is particularly moving. The tragic mood is set right from the beginning with those remote, glassy, high violin chords, answered by the mournful cello and slow marching piano line. Quoting Shostakovich himself, “Jewish folk music seems jolly even when it is at its most tragic…’smiling through tears.’” How well the Mondrian players understand this and how well they convey the biting cynicism of the final movement. Just listen to the edgy burring of the violin’s intonation, for instance.

A heartfelt Shostakovich reading with the Mondrian plumbing the work’s tragic depths and an expressive Ravel played with precision and polish.
Ian Lace 

Heartfelt Shostakovich plumbing the work’s tragic depths and an expressive Ravel played with precision and polish.