Hot on the heels of their first commercial CD (released on the CAvi label in May 2020) and the ensuing flurry of excellent reviews, the Linos Piano Trio are now recording their second disc. They have been invited to make this new disc in a partnership between Bayerischer Rundfunk and AVI-Service for music, and have been recording this week in the Bayerischer Rundfunk building in Munich.
The Trio’s first disc, of C. P. E. Bach Piano Trios, received several five star reviews across the European press, with Gramophone describing the playing as “smart, efficient and alert to Bach’s quicksilver changes of mood and material”, MusicWeb International praising the “breath-taking performances”, and Fanfare asserting that “one could not ask for a better performance”.
For their second CD, the Linos Piano Trio are recording a selection of four large-scale works from their ongoing ‘Stolen Music’ project, inspired by a famous quote of Igor Stravinsky:
“Good composers borrow, great ones steal.”
The combination of piano, violin and cello has, since the start of the 19th Century, acted as a pre-digital kind of virtuality. Music for larger ensembles was disseminated beyond the concert halls through transcriptions, with symphonic colours simulated through the sonic possibilities of the piano trio.
This aspect of the genre has fascinated the Linos Piano Trio since its founding in 2007, its first performance being of Schönberg’s Verklärte Nacht in the arrangement by Eduard Steuermann. The trio took this a step further in 2016 by starting a series of its own transcriptions, with the most ambitious, colourful, and virtuosic works now being presented together in this new recording: Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune, Ravel’s La Valse, and Dukas’ Sorcerer’s Apprentice.
Each arrangement is the result of a collaborative process whereby the trio explores the score and experiments with all the possible sonorities, with the aim of reimagining the work as if the composer had conceived it for piano trio. Inspired by Stravinsky’s notion of creative stealing—taking something and making it one’s own—the Linos Piano Trio calls the project Stolen Music.
Aside from sharing this transcriptive process, the four pieces in Stolen Music are also linked with poetry. The Debussy, Dukas and Schönberg are compositions based on poems by Mallarmé, Goethe, and Dehmel. Ravel’s La Valse (subtitled poème chorégraphique) encapsulates an imagined scene. In Dukas’s Sorcerer’s Apprentice, the music paints the story almost line-by-line and adopts Goethe’s poetic meter into its iconic rhythm. Schönberg’s Verklärte Nacht takes its bipartite structure from Dehmel’s poem, but fleshes out the emotional content expressionistically. In Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune, Mallarmé’s sensually symbolist images are freely translated into Debussy’s own sound world. Ravel’s La Valse, in the words of the composer George Benjamin, “plots the birth, decay and destruction of a musical genre: the waltz”.