Friday, March 14, 2014

Montage # 147 – Trios élégiaques

As of  April 11, 2014, this montage will no longer be available on Pod-O-Matic. It can be heard or downloaded from the Internet Archive at the following address:


This week’s montage explores three Russian trios that have a common link; the tradition among Russian composers to write an elegiac trio in memory of a departed friend.
Bearing the inscription "To the memory of a great artist," this trio was dedicated to the recently deceased pianist Nikolai Rubinstein, with whom Tchaikovsky had maintained a difficult friendship. Fittingly, the trio's piano part is quite challenging and often overwhelms the material for violin and cello. Tchaikovsky was not much of a pianist and never realized how difficult his keyboard music could be.
Sergei Rachmaninov wrote two piano trios, both of them essentially elegiac in character. The first was a doleful single-movement work in G minor written in four days in 1892. While it has the gloomy charm of youthful morbidity, its gloom seems facile and superficial compared to the profound emotions of the Trio in D minor that followed only a year later. Inspired by the shocking death of Tchaikovsky on October 23, 1893, Rachmaninov responded by beginning a work in his memory two days later. Laboring over it for six weeks, Rachmaninov composed a work in three huge and hugely despairing movements. Today’s montage retains only the first movement of the rather expansive work – the remainder of the work can be found in last Summer’s look at “intimate music” by Rachmaninov.

Shostakovich's Piano Trio No. 2, Op. 67, is remarkable for a number of reasons. It was written in 1944, just after his Symphony No. 8, with which it shares its overall structure; it is a lamentation for both Shostakovich's close friend, musicologist Ivan Sollertinsky, and the victims of the Holocaust, the news of which horror did not reach the U.S.S.R. until the liberation of the camps began; and it is his first work to employ a "Jewish theme," a musical tribute that used the scales and rhythms of Jewish folk music as Shostakovich knew it. Shostakovich began composing the trio in December 1943. He had only completed sketches, which he was able to share with Sollertinsky before Sollertinsky's death in February 1944. Shostakovich performed the piano part in the premiere, on November 14, 1944, in Leningrad, with violinist Dmitri Tsyganov and cellist Sergei Shirinsky, both members of the Beethoven String Quartet.
The montage presents performances taken from the 10-year old release of the Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich trios by the Trio Rachmaninoff de Montréal. Founded in 1997, the Trio has been thrilling audiences in Canada, the USA, and Europe with its intense, dynamic, and distinctive approach. The ensemble, whose repertoire covers Haydn to Shostakovich, named their group after composer Sergey Rachmaninov, because of their special emphasis on romantic and post-romantic works. The members [pianist Patrice Laré, violinist Natalia Kononova and cellist Velitchka Yotcheva] studied at the Russian Music Conservatories in Moscow and Saint Petersburg before competing their doctoral studies at the Université de Montréal.

I think you will love this music too!

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