On their second recording, ‘Stolen Music’, the Linos Piano Trio have taken some iconic early 20th Century orchestral works and transformed them for their own chamber forces – and why not? They have arranged three of the works themselves, French gems by Debussy, Ravel and Dukas.
Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune is full of colour and the hazy intoxication of a sleepy afternoon, and whilst Pan’s flute is missing here, the trio make great use of silky lines from violinist Konrad Elias-Trostmann, as well as the high registers of the cello, from Vladimir Waltham. Prach Boondiskulchok on piano fleshes out Debussy’s rich harmonies remarkably with warm tone and delicate placement.
Dukas’ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is another very well-known atmospheric work, full of orchestral drama and colour. Their piano trio version here obviously can’t replicate the full scale and range of textures, but with clever use of glassy strings and pizzicato, as well as frenzied piano moments, the relentless march towards disaster is effectively conjured up, with a truly wild climax.
Ravel’s La Valse has a similar feeling of looming disaster, here with the seemingly formal waltz slowly spiralling out of control, even tipping over the edge into decadent chaos. In their arrangement, the Linos players burst the piano trio free of the formal salon into wild abandon – the variety of textures and effects they generate from the three instruments here is impressive, and they almost achieve the sense of impending seasickness generated by the orchestral surges at the conclusion.
The other work here is Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht, here in a transcription by Eduard Steuermann from 1932 … The original version was for string sextet, so the piano trio format is not so far away, with the piano part doing a lot of heavy lifting in terms of the rich harmonies. The lyrical higher registers of the cello are used to match the passionate outbursts from the violin, and the piano is a constant driving force of dramatic energy.
Through their expert and sensitive arrangements of the French works, as well as their deeply expressive rendition of the Schoenberg, the Linos Piano Trio communicate deep understanding of and commitment to these passionate works, bringing a freshness to these familiar works.
I look forward to these players stealing more repertoire if these arrangements and performances are anything to go by.