Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)
Piano Trio Op.120 (1923) [21:29]
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Piano Trio in A minor (1914) [25:34]
Le Trio de France (Geneviève Joy (piano); Jeanne Gautier (violin); André Lévy (cello))
rec. 1958
The name ‘Le Trio de France’ will mean most to 78 collectors and those who may still have early LPs on their shelves. The group here was Geneviève Joy (piano: 1919-2009), Jeanne Gautier (violin: 1898-1974), and André Lévy (cello: 1894-1982), though there were times when Joy was replaced by Vlado Perlemuter.
They formed a truly outstanding ensemble, and their tonal projection was never predicated on beauty of sound for its own sake. Like a lot of French groups in the later 1940s and 1950s there was a rather spiky quality to their ensemble, and something of that comes across very strongly in these two trio recordings.
Fauré’s late Trio receives a reading of great perception. I’m not aware that the work was ever recorded on 78s; perhaps it had been on LP before this one, which was made in 1958, but this is the earliest recording I’ve heard of the work. You will certainly note that the much later LP by the Dumay-Lodéon-Collard trio - I confess that I never tire of their Fauré performances, and their chamber box is exemplary - is a lot more tonally warm than the performance by Le Trio de France. The Trio however gauge the climax at the end of the first movement superbly, and the lovely string exchanges in the slow movement rise to a crest of intensity, clearly focused, not at all opulent but nevertheless impressive. The finale is taut and energetically projected. They can make more recent groups sound a touch decorous here.
The companion work is the Ravel trio. As in an earlier, and live, May 1954 performance, on Tahra 610, in which Perlemuter replaced Joy, tempi are perfectly judged and realised. The legato exchanges between the two string players are a joy to hear, so too the lithe pulse that animates the Pantoum second movement. They are unashamedly expressive in the Passacaille and latch onto the firefly intimacies that animate the finale, where we also find plenty of drive and drama.
Gautier’s recordings are very collectable and you will find that her LPs are now very expensive, which makes this well transferred disc, without notes as is customary, all the more valuable.
Jonathan Woolf 

A truly outstanding ensemble though their tonal projection was never predicated on beauty of sound for its own sake.