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A gripping, touching and highly virtuosic performance

Klassik Heute, Verena Düren

The title “Stolen Music” of the latest CD by the Linos Piano Trio initially seems perhaps a little irritating. One is tempted to think immediately of the darkest part of German history, of stolen compositions like the numerous examples of stolen visual arts. But there is something completely different, very exciting, behind the title: the featured works by Claude Debussy, Paul Dukas, Arnold Schönberg and Maurice Ravel are compositions that were written for other (usually larger) ensembles, and which the Linos Piano Trio … has now made its own on their new CD. The idea actually seems almost obvious in times of the pandemic and, consequently, of smaller ensembles. In addition, it fits perfectly into the very concept of the trio, which aims to reinvent music and also simply to play any music that the musicians like – regardless of whether it is a composition for piano trio or not.

The decisive factor in the trio’s decision to focus more intensively on this idea was the arrangement of Schönberg’s sextet Verklärte Nacht for piano trio by Eduard Steuermann, which the ensemble discovered in 2007. It is the only arrangement on this new recording which is not written by the members of the ensemble themselves. The four compositions on the CD have one thing in common: they are all very pictorial – three are even based on specific poems.

Treasures clothed in a new soundscape.

The Linos Piano Trio starts with Claude Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune, which is based on Mallarmé’s poem of the same name. Editing this work for piano trio seems to be quite daring, as it eliminates the well-known sound of the flute in the main theme.

But the three musicians manage to compensate for this supposed shortcoming without any problems, and they produce a sound that is on the one hand very transparent and, on the other, full and indulgent.

Paul Dukas’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is a work also very strongly associated with the different timbres of the orchestral instruments. And in fact it takes a little getting used to when the awakening of the spirits is not initiated by the bassoon but by the cello.

But it doesn’t take long to get used to it – the trio’s arrangement and playing are too convincing.

Not so far away in terms of timbre is the arrangement by Steuermann of Schönberg’s string sextet Verklärte Nacht. Clearly, a reduction from a string sextet to a piano trio is quite an obvious choice.

The trio succeeds in implementing it excellently, with a gripping, touching and highly virtuosic performance.

The fourth phrase, headed “very broad and slow”, actually tempts you to “listen on repeat”. Here Waltham can skilfully play in the foreground, and then move on to a dialogue with Trostmann. The Linos Piano Trio concludes its recording with what is probably the most unusual arrangement, Maurice Ravel’s La Valse. Since Ravel also wrote one of the most important piano trios, the musicians used this to create an arrangement that might have been written by Ravel himself.

A successful experiment, and the end of a CD full of “stolen treasures” clothed in a different soundscape.

Loosely translated from German.

The recording:
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