Wednesday, 8 November 2017

CD Review (The Straits Times, November 2017)

Kremer. Dirvanauskaite.Trifonov
Deutsche Grammophon 479 6979 / *****

The album's title Preghiera (Prayer) refers to a short piece for violin and piano by Fritz Kreisler, a reworking of the melodious themes found in the slow movement of his close friend and musical collaborator Sergei Rachmaninov's popular Second Piano Concerto. Like much of the Russian's music, it is melancholic but the underlying prettiness shines through. It serves as a prelude to the his two piano trios, brooding early works which are performed in reverse chronological order.

The much longer Piano Trio No.2 in D minor (Op.9), just under 50 minutes in playing time, was composed in memory of his mentor Tchaikovsky who died in 1893. It is modelled almost exactly after Tchaikovsky's own Piano Trio in A minor, dedicated to the late Nicholas Rubinstein. Even the slow movement is a set of variations, but based on the main theme from Rachmaninov's tone poem The Rock. Tchaikovsky's influence also heavily pervades the single-movement Piano Trio in G minor, which is reminiscent of a tragic romance. 

This disc celebrates the 70th birthday of Latvian violinist Gidon Kremer, who retains his characteristic wiry and acerbic tone, but tempers it with no little tenderness. He is partnered by younger but no less skilled partners, Lithuanian cellist Giedre Dirvanauskaite and Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov. A winner from start to finish.

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