Classical Music CDs, DVDs

Ravel Piano Trio/ Brahms Piano Trio Op8

Streeton Trio
STREETON TRIO: Benjamin Kopp, piano; Emma Jardine, violin; Martin Smith, cello


Track Listing Extract:
MAURICE RAVEL (1875–1937)
Trio for piano, violin and cello in A minor (1914)
1. Modéré 9′ 52
2. Pantoum (Assez vif) 4′ 16
3. Passacaille (Très large) 8′ 08
4. Finale (Animé) 5′ 04

Piano Trio No. 1 in B major, Op. 8 (1891)
5. Allegro con brio 14′ 48
6. Scherzo 6′ 34
7. Adagio 8′ 46
8. Allegro 6′ 43

Staff Reviews

It is a mark of the seriousness of purpose of this new trio of Australian Musicians that on their début CD they have tackled two of the most substantial works in the genre, Ravel’s single Piano Trio, and Brahms’ first, in its tautened 1891 version. The choice of repertoire is interesting—the two works have both a formal and textural similarity, albeit superficial. The first movement of the Ravel is particularly tricky, with an exquisite main theme full of rhythmic pitfalls, and the Streetons negotiate these with real poetry, picking an absolutely convincing tempo, neither leisurely nor urgent but underlining the nostalgic melancholy of the movement. Again, in the mercurial  second movement, Pantoum, the tempo is close to ideal and the playing has great vivacity. They take the grand Passacaille that comes next at a markedly slow tempo and much to their credit it is entirely successful, reminding us of the 17th century origins of this distinctive musical form; their performance has a melancholy solemnity without losing the characteristic Ravel sophistication. The Finale draws all the preceding threads together, and the Streeton’s reading gives this last movement a fiery, culminatory power.

The Brahms First Trio, by contrast, begins almost amiably, insinuating us into his genial soundworld without fuss, and the measured way the Streeton Trio build tension in the first movement has a beautifully idiomatic expansiveness. They manage to sustain a plateau of intensity that gripped me throughout this mellow work. The second movement alternates delicacy, in the horncall-like first theme, with an exemplary lyricism in the sweeping Trio section, and while the ensuing slow movement is perhaps less full-blooded than would be ideal, it is certainly charged with the sense of resignation that makes Brahms’ Adagios so poignant. The concise Finale is strongly turbulent  with an anxious energy that drives the music towards a powerful climax.

The recorded sound, perhaps a little better in the Ravel than the Brahms, has a pleasing naturalness and intimacy; although a self-issued CD the production values are excellent. It is quite clear that these young players have entirely identified with this repertoire—their unerring exactitude of tempo and mood is almost psychic. I look forward to seeing how they develop. But in the meantime, you could support them by buying this excellent CD…

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