Friday, May 19, 2017

Gabriel Fauré; Claude Debussy; Maurice Ravel - Piano Trios (Florestan Trio)


Composer: Gabriel Fauré; Claude Debussy; Maurice Ravel
  1. Fauré - Piano Trio in D minor, Op. 120: I. Allegro, ma non troppo
  2. Fauré - Piano Trio in D minor, Op. 120: II. Andantino
  3. Fauré - Piano Trio in D minor, Op. 120: III. Allegro vivo
  4. Debussy - Piano Trio in G minor, L. 5: I. Andantino con moto allegro
  5. Debussy - Piano Trio in G minor, L. 5: II. Scherzo-Intermezzo. Moderato con allegro
  6. Debussy - Piano Trio in G minor, L. 5: III. Andante espressivo
  7. Debussy - Piano Trio in G minor, L. 5: IV. Finale. Appassionato
  8. Ravel - Piano Trio in A minor: I. Modéré
  9. Ravel - Piano Trio in A minor: II. Pantoum (Assez vif)
  10. Ravel - Piano Trio in A minor: III. Passacaille (Très large)
  11. Ravel - Piano Trio in A minor: IV. Finale (Anime)

Florestan Trio
Anthony Marwood, violin
Richard Leste, cello
Susan Tomes, piano

Date: 1999
Label: Hyperion



The Florestan Trio has the ability to adapt its style to different kinds of music without any loss of conviction. After Brahms and Schumann comes this French disc showing it equally adept at entering the 1880 salon world of Debussy's youthful Trio, Ravel's brilliant exotic idiom, and the intimate, intense thoughts of Faure's old age. These works appeared together on a fine 1989 disc by the Fontenay Trio (Teldec, 7/92 - nla). If you have this you're not likely to feel dissatisfied, but the Florestan presents a very different view of all three pieces, and in several respects I prefer it. The Florestan generally adopts faster speeds and in the quicker movements Susan Tomes's playing is remarkably light and precise. The finale of the Faure, for example, has a scherzando quality that throws into relief the seriousness of the strings' initial gesture. The string players are always ready to modify their sound to produce special expressive effects - the eerily quiet unison passage in Faure's Andante (track 2, 2'54'') or the vibrato-less duet in the Ravel Passacaille (track 10, 5'15'') - sounding wonderfully remote and antique. The Hyperion recording has greater clarity, too, allowing much more of the fantastical detail in the Ravel Pantoum to emerge.

In the Debussy, the Florestan style is lighter than the more spacious, concentrated Fontenay, stressing elegance rather than trying to search out expressive depths. The latter's playing is more straightforward than the Golub/Kaplan/Carr Trio, whose idiomatic command of rubato results in persuasively free interpretations of the Debussy and the Faure. But the Florestan's freshness, imagination and purposeful directness incline me to put them at the top of my list.

-- Duncan Druce, Gramophone

More reviews:
BBC Music Magazine  PERFORMANCE: ***** / SOUND: *****


Gabriel Fauré (12 May 1845 – 4 November 1924) was a French composer, organist, pianist and teacher. He was one of the foremost French composers of his generation, and his musical style influenced many 20th-century composers. Among his best-known works are his Pavane, Requiem, nocturnes for piano and the songs "Après un rêve" and "Clair de lune". Fauré composed many of his most highly regarded works in his later years, in a more harmonically and melodically complex style. His music has been described as linking the end of Romanticism with 20th century modernism.


Claude Debussy (22 August 1862 – 25 March 1918) was a French composer. Along with Maurice Ravel, he was one of the most prominent figures associated with Impressionist music, though he disliked the term when applied to his compositions. Debussy is widely regarded as one of the most influential composers of the 20th century. His innovative harmonies were influential to almost every major composer of the 20th century and also some modern music groups. Debussy's music is noted for its sensory content and frequent usage of nontraditional tonalities.


Maurice Ravel (7 March 1875 – 28 December 1937) was a French composer, pianist and conductor. He is often associated with impressionism along with Claude Debussy, although both composers rejected the term. In the 1920s and 1930s Ravel was internationally regarded as France's greatest living composer. Ravel was an exceptionally skilled orchestrator, as in his well known 1922 version of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. His best known works include Boléro (1928), Gaspard de la nuit (1908), Daphnis et Chloé (1912).


The Florestan Trio was formed in 1995 in London. That year the piano quartet Domus disbanded, and that group's pianist Susan Tomes and its cellist Richard Lester, together with violinist Anthony Marwood, formed the Florestan Trio. The Trio has established a reputation as one of the finest piano trios in the world. In its first decade, the group has made 14 recordings on the Hyperion label, all of which received Gramophone nominations. Its concerts have also drawn enthusiastic receptions from critics and public alike.


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