Magazine article Gramophone

Soviet Piano Trios from the German Threesome

Magazine article Gramophone

Soviet Piano Trios from the German Threesome

Article excerpt

Shostakovich * Vasks

Shostakovich Piano Trios--No 1, Op 8; No 2, Op 67 Vasks Episodi e canto perpetuo Boulanger Trio Profil (F) PH12045 (67' * DDD)

Peteris Vasks's 30-minute Episodi e canto perpetuo is subtitled Hommage a O Messiaen. That's all well and good. In fact it sounds so much like a running commentary on the Quartet for the End of Time that it is hard to discern any individuality whatsoever in it. Insofar as any other voice emerges, it is that of George Crumb, who was fashionable in Soviet composing circles in the 1980s (Vasks's Trio dates from 1985). In a cultural context where those composers were recent discoveries, one can perhaps see the point. But while it may be valuable to have a lesser-known work as a coupling to the two Shostakovich piano trios, this one definitely outstays its welcome.

The Boulanger Trio play sensitively and nimbly, both here and in the two Shostakovich trios, where most of the obvious traps (into which a number of its rivals fall) are neatly sidestepped. However, the colouristic range is comparatively muted, phrasing and characterisation lack the edge these works demand and rhythmic stability in the finale of the Second Trio comes and goes for no good reason. …

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