Piano Trio No. 1.
ATMA ACD2 2633 (61:27)
As such ensembles go, Triple Forte is relatively young, founded in 2003 by three Canadian musicians with successful solo careers—violinist Jasper Wood, cellist Yegor Dyachkov, and pianist David Jalbert. Their website (tripleforte.ca) is not up to date, so I cannot be sure, but this appears to be Triple Forte’s first CD. It is a decided success. This is a challenging program of three works that definitely do not play themselves, in the sense that they require a particularly strong interpretive and stylistic profile. Ravel’s Piano Trio receives an unusually warm and sensuous performance here, and the music’s dark colors are brought out. Even the Asian-influenced second movement (Pantoum), which sometimes is made to be a little too cute for its own good, develops some sweat on its upper lip. For many collectors, the Beaux Arts Trio is the “go to” ensemble in this work. Triple Forte does not eclipse them, but they bring a younger, albeit always controlled, energy to Ravel’s trio, and that’s a valid alternative.
Shostakovich’s Piano Trio No. 1 was written when he was only 17. It’s not as popular as its successor, but still, this is an intimidatingly mature work for a composer so young. It’s a melancholy work overall, bearing many of the composer’s stylistic fingerprints, but it is not as bitter or biting as the Piano Trio No. 2. One of its best recordings is the one from EMI featuring the three Chung siblings (Kyung-Wha, Myung-Wha, and Myung-Whun), but it is out of print, and Triple Forte plays the trio with a similarly inward-looking intensity, and concern for beauty of sound.
Beauty of sound has little place in Ives’s Piano Trio, arguably, and one might accuse Triple Forte of trying to tone down this work’s roughness. Actually, I think that many trios, the Beaux Arts included, go too far in trying to demonstrate that they realize Ives was a bad boy. I like the way that, in contrast, Triple Forte plays the second movement, for example, almost off-handedly. It’s a very mature, even serious, reading from such a young ensemble. I’m pleased with this disc (which is nicely engineered, in addition) and hope to hear more from these three musicians, separately or together.