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Cécile CHAMINADE (1857-1944)
Piano Trio No.1, Op.11 [21:12]
Piano Trio No.2, Op.34 [23:09]
Trois Morceaux, Op.31 [15:29]
Capriccio, Op.18 [5:21]
Romanza appassionata [3:39]
Sommeil d’enfant [3:31]
Trio Parnassus (Julia Galić (violin), Michael Groß (cello), Johann Blanchard (piano))
rec. 2016, Konzerthaus der Abteikirche Marienmünster, Nordrhein-Westfalen.
MDG 3032002-2 [72:32]

Is there a mini-revival of interest in Cécile Chaminade? Two recordings of her Concertstuck for piano and orchestra have appeared recently together with a first recording of her ballet Callirhoë. Now Dabringhaus und Grimm present us with a cd of assorted chamber music including the two piano trios. These have been recorded before and a quick check on Amazon will reveal several interpretations available in one form or another.

Six years separate the composition of the two, although the compositional style does not appear to have changed much, both trios display her ability to produce accessible, flowing melody, and in the case of the slow movement of the Op.34 trio, she has given us a real gem. I am not surprised that the sleeve note opines that this piece achieved certain popularity in its day. As to the compositional style – well, the first trio dates from 1880, when she was 23 (she was pianist in its first performance), and one can hear echoes of Schumann, Fauré and, in the faster passages, Mendelssohn. This sounds like a real hotch-potch, but the piece is entertaining and characteristic of its period.

The second trio achieved performances in Paris, London, Lausanne, Berlin and New York and reveals a certain Germanic cast – greater drama, perhaps – in its Allegro Moderato first movement, than we hear in the first trio. The second movement Lento is an expressive piece lasting nearly 8 minutes, and I have found myself listening to it repeatedly. Its middle section, introduced by the piano, sounds like a folk song and is truly memorable. The third and last movement reverts to the drama of the first, interspersed with quieter passages. It is possible to hear hints of Spanish music in the second theme of the movement, and the booklet notes suggest the influence of Spanish culture, which appeared in many French composers’ output around that time.

The Trois Morceaux Op 31 show Chaminade composing in the charming salon vein, for which she became best known, as do the remaining works on this CD. Other than to remark on her ability, oft stated, that she had a remarkable facility to produce short, often memorable pieces well illustrated here, and that those pieces could be gently languishing (Romanza appasionata or Sommeil d’enfant)) or of dance-like vigour (Bohémienne, Op.31 No. 3), I think that it just remains for me to comment on the production qualities of this release: The Trio Parnassus has been in existence for over thirty years and is based in Stuttgart. They play these works with just the right amount of delicacy or vigour that they require, and do so with beautiful tone and blend. The recording is outstandingly natural, with a lovely tonal bloom to the sound – the recording venue was evidently wisely chosen. The CD booklet is a first rate example of its kind, in three languages, and gives a detailed description of each work on the disc as well as appropriate biographical information.

Jim Westhead



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