Chaminade’s Underrated Piano Trios, Stunningly Performed

Review by: Jed Distler

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Artistic Quality: 10

Sound Quality: 10

Cécile Chaminade’s Op. 11 and Op. 34 Piano Trios have had decent catalog representation, although the present release is only the third time that both works are featured on the same disc. The Trio Parnassus easily outclasses the competition, and makes the best possible case for this beautifully crafted music.

Take Op. 11’s Presto leggiero, for example, and notice how pianist Johann Blanchant pays heed to the cross-rhythmic intricacies in the glittery passagework, while cellist Michael Gross’ pizzicatos sing out rather than merely thump. The agitato finale evokes some of Schumann’s obsessive traits, yet it ventures off into some pretty wild harmonic territory.

In Op. 34’s central Lento movement, both Gross and violinist Julia Galic gorgeously intone the eloquent long-lined theme as they match timbre, vibrato, and portamentos with breath-stopping synchronicity. While the trios belie Chaminade’s latter-day reputation as a mere salon composer, the remaining duo compositions are admittedly lightweight, bordering on the banal (the third of the Op. 31 Morceaux’s sappy tunes, for instance). The Op. 18 Capriccio for violin and the composer’s cello arrangement of her Romanza appassionata display superior melodic taste and plenty of surface charm.

MDG’s warm, well-balanced engineering adds further enticement for chamber music enthusiasts who like to explore the repertoire’s unbeaten paths. Take or leave the short pieces, but the Op. 11 and Op. 34 deserve serious attention, as do the Trio Parnassus’ reference-setting interpretations.



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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: This one

  • CHAMINADE, CÉCILE:
    Piano Trio Op. 11; Capriccio Op. 18; Trois Morceaux Op. 31; Piano Trio Op. 34; Romanza appasionata; Sommeil d’enfant

    Trio Parnassus

  • MDG - 303 2002 2
  • CD

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