This pair of piano trios has become recognised in recent years as among the finest works by their composers, and they make a complementary pairing despite their contrasting idioms. This new recording also makes a fine showcase for a trio of Italian siblings who have won many prizes in chamber-music competitions and give recitals across Italy as Trio Rigamonti.
Completed in 1846, the G minor Piano Trio of Clara Schumann thus postdates her early piano pieces by decades, and is accordingly a much more mature and accomplished work. She handles the piano-trio dynamic with great skill, balancing her piano part against the strings with sensitivity, and the whole piece is shot through with a pathos that bears comparison with contemporary works by both her husband and her friend Brahms.
While there is no shortage of light and shade to the second theme of the first movement and the playful central Scherzo, the expressive pull of Clara Schumann’s Piano Trio draws the listener towards the piano’s deeply felt introduction to the slow movement, which achieves remarkable pathos within its relatively brief duration. The turbulent finale skilfully balances the scale of the first movement, and the whole piece ranks among the most satisfying of 19th-century piano trios.
Its counterpart in the early years of the 20th century, hardly less rewarding a contribution to the piano-trio literature than contemporary works by Ravel and Rachmaninoff, is the Piano Trio composed in 1921 by Rebecca Clarke. The angst of Clara’s finale is answered and intensified by a gripping confrontation at the start of Clarke’s Trio, which does not so much subside as simmer throughout the first movement. The central Andante flows like a free-running brook and yet is achingly lyrical, before the Allegro vigoroso finale spins the listener through a whirling kaleidoscope of music past and future. These trios make a natural pairing in concert and on record and yet they are still too rarely heard, but Trio Rigamonti are passionate advocates.
- This CD presents romantic piano trios by two female composers, Clara Schumann-Wieck (1819-1896) and Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979). Though of different age and country they shared a common goal: to challenge the male-oriented music society by fighting the prejudices and asserting their own creative and professional powers.
- Both trios give testimony to a passionate and emotionally-charged musicality, while the instrumental writing is of the highest caliber, both composers being practicing musicians as well (Clara was a famous pianist, Rebecca a noted viola player).
- Played with true commitment by the young Rigamonti Trio from Italy.