A Marvelous Medley of Marimbas

Review by: Victor Carr Jr

Trio-SR9-Front

Artistic Quality: 9

Sound Quality: 10

This CD’s whimsical cover photo might give the impression of silliness on the part of the musicians, but Trio SR9 is quite serious about its music-making, even while having a good bit of fun playing these very unusual and highly interesting arrangements for three marimbas.

Listening to this disc evoked memories of classical music played by Trinidadian steel drum bands. Of course, marimbas have a softer and smoother sound that more easily adapts to the baroque works that open the program: Forqueray’s Allemande, Bach’s French Suite (Gigue), Rameau’s Sarabande, Scarlatti’s Gavotte K.64, Purcell’s Menuet No. 13, and Handel’s Courante HWV 437. The successful interpretation is hardly surprising, as baroque music has survived virtually any type of arrangement imaginable. The later works from the 19th and 20th centuries form a more interesting challenge. Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor remains charming in this arrangement, although you miss Borodin’s beguiling orchestral colors.

The highlight of the program, however, is Debussy’s Danse, which uncannily sounds as if it were composed specifically for these instruments (likewise Tashdjian’s Narnchygäer). Falla’s Ritual Fire Dance also comes off quite effectively. However, Bartók’s Romanian Dance sounds less compelling in this dress. Satie’s Danse de Travers No. 3 ends the disc in a mellow mood. The recording captures the full range of these remarkable instruments, down to the surprisingly deep and resonant low-end. In all, this is a light yet stimulating album that’s definitely worth a listen.



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Recording Details:

Works by Antoine Forqueray, G.F. Handel, Domenico Scarlatti, Phillipe Rameau, J.S. Bach, Claude Debussy, Béla Bartók, Alexander Borodin, François Tashdjian, Manuel de Falla, and Erik Satie


    Trio SR9


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