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Georgy SVIRIDOV (1915-1998)
Piano Trio in A minor (1945 rev. 1955) [26:32]
Piano Quintet in B minor (1945) [25:35]
Romance from The Blizzard (1965) [5:41]
Beethoven Trio Bonn (Jinsang Lee (piano); Mikhail Ovrutsky (violin); Grigory Alumyan (cello))
Artur Chermonov (violin); Vladimir Babestiko (viola)
rec. 2016, Bayerische Rundfunk München Studio 2.
C-AVI MUSIC 8553375 [57:52]

Georgy Sviridov’s music has attracted quite a few recordings so curiosity about much of his music can be assuaged easily enough. Best known for his works involving the human voice, his instrumental pieces have taken a backseat.

This is a valuable disc as it carries forward, across approaching an hour of intense music-making, two very substantial four-movement chamber works of 1945. The same period also yielded two string quartets; they should be well worth hearing. The Quintet is in a world premiere recording while the Trio was once available on Olympia.

The Piano Trio has a sentimental and touching first movement. Then comes the gadfly woodpecker-rapidity of the scherzo. It's music smokingly heated - unstoppable. The Andante communicates as a funeral cortege with its motif related to the main theme in the first movement. It’s a typically withdrawn and melancholically dignified piece. Sviridov kicks over the traces by ending with an Idyll: Allegretto. With that title it might almost by Medtner but the music is quite other. What we hear is naïve at first but soon flies along in writing that would have suited Leonid Kogan. This has a Shostakovich-like furious ardour about it. This then resolves into a black soliloquising that teeters on the bladed edge between despair, negation and consolation. Sviridov studied with Shostakovich (1936-41) and this left traces on the Trio and the following Quintet.

The Piano Quintet in B minor is from the same year as the Piano Trio. It is rapaciously energetic and seems to be borne boisterously on high. Feeling like a celebration of victory, here is to be found sadness in triumph and joy twisted with loss. The music's happy energy has a hardhearted overlay, faint but noticeable. The Presto appears fuelled by a tirelessly scathing power. The third movement is a Molto adagio which becomes more brutal (6:10) as it seethes. The Quintet finishes with a set of Variations and a bubbling and ultimately ambiguous Allegro ma non tanto.

Romance from The Blizzard is a violin-led serenade - a touch sentimental but certainly moving. It is heard in a well-gauged arrangement by the Bonn Trio's violinist. The original - part of a nine-episode Pushkin-based suite - is for orchestra (review review). Sviridov no doubt had many talents but having the knack for writing such a dewy charmer must have put him in heart's way for many listeners beyond the classical elite.

The recording supports the music and the playing. There is no weak partner. The notes are in German and English and cover all the necessary bases although I would have wished to have specific details for the premieres of these works.

Rob Barnett


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