Review: Russian Romantic Piano Trio Bonanza “this trio of gifted musicians cannot help but break into a smile”
By Jason Victor Serinus
Romantics rejoice! In an age where ice seems to melt faster than hearts, there are still great musicians who uphold the Russian tradition of romantic music. Vadim Gluzman, Johannes Moser, and Yevgeny Sudbin may not (yet) have the cachet of David Oistrakh, Mstislav Rostropovich, and Sviatoslav Richter, who famously came together with Herbert von Karajan to record Beethoven’s Triple Concerto, but their new SACD of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Trio in A minor, Op. 50, and Arno Babajanian’s sole Piano Trio (BIS-2372) places them firmly in the grand Russian tradition of emotive, give-it-all-you’ve-got musicianship.
Before recording—on a Stradivarius violin, a Guarneri cello, and Steinway D—these artists worked out their balances and dynamic swells to perfection; each knew when to rise to prominence or fall back into ensemble mode. When the trios really gets going, as in Tchaikovsky’s extremely long, overmilked final variation and coda, all three manage to let loose in proportion while maintaining beauty of tone.
They sound absolutely right in the elegiac 17+-minute opening of Tchaikovsky’s 48-minute trio. As strong a player as he is, Gluzman manages to sound fragile at first, as Moser plumbs the depths. Without hesitation, they get to the heart of music dedicated to Tchaikovsky’s late mentor, pianist/conductor/orchestral director Nikolai Rubinstein.