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Reviews: Shostakovich, Schnittke: Piano Trios - Kempf Trio

Reviews: 2

Review by krisjan January 26, 2010 (5 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
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Review by willemvoorneveld June 28, 2012 (6 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
Shostakovich Piano trios are popular items and are played frequently and thus are also widely available on CD. The trio’s are considered master pieces of a genre that was also extensively used by Brahms. The reviewed recording is from the Kempf Trio that unfortunately stopped functioning as a trio some years ago. The interpretation of the Second, probably most popular trio ever, is one that holds its own compared to several other very good performances. Their interpretation remains very close to my other reference recording from the Borodin Trio as far as tempo and dynamic impact go. In both recordings the piano calls the shots. It is a matter of taste to prefer one over the other; both convinced me completely.

Trio no 1 gets an equally adequate treatment; This trio was written in 1923 but already shows Shostakovich capability of writing music that keeps your attention till the end. During this period Shostakovich was experimenting with a-tonal music (The Nose a.o) which does not show in this work but it is a tad more complicated than the “straight in your face” stream of melodies from the second trio (written during the war). Best comparison is here the Moscow Trio (on Le Chant du Monde).

The Schnittke trio is a rework of the string trio from 1985 but I find the Piano trio a better match for the notes written on paper. The piano adds more drama to the scene and gives the overall sound scape more depth. Alfred Schnittke follows in the footsteps of Shostakovich and uses more modernistic means to make his musical message clear. In this work (Issued in 1992) Schnittke does not include direct musical quotes from other composers, but instead the piano plays a full quote from his own Faust Cantate. Does this mean Schnittke could not find interesting work from other composers ?
As other reviewers have said this is no easy listening but on the other hand it remains music that is needed by mankind ! Alfred Schnittke remains an intriguing figure.

Compared to any other performance, this SACD outplays all CD’s easily. I was able to get a very lifelike and realistic sound in my larger of the two listening rooms. I found the piano impressive. The overall tonal balance is on the bright side and so now and then is the violin sound produced by Pierre Bensaid somewhat harsh. Just a tad. The acoustic information that comes with the music is just right. Well done again by the BIS team.
Wv.

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