- Piano Trio in G minor, JB 1:64 (Op. 15)
- Piano Trio in A minor
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The graphics don't mention it, but this is part of a fine series of chamber music releases recorded at the Heimbach Hydroelectric Power Station in Germany, which has an ongoing music program. It even features a composer-in-residence, recently the Welsh composer-pianist Huw Watkins heard here. The programs typically feature rotating groups of instrumentalists, but the producers and the space itself provide a remarkable unifying factor. Contrary to what you might think, the power station's acoustic is not especially live but is warm, clear, and beautifully detailed. Try the "Pantoum" second movement of Ravel's "Piano Trio in A minor," whose structure is allegedly based on a Malay verse form. Ravel chains together short related statements through intensive use of pizzicato, and the textures of this work, on which Ravel labored for years, come through with remarkable clarity. The performance of the "Piano Trio in G minor, Op. 15," of Smetana, is also very strong. This work, written after the death of the composer's daughter from scarlet fever, is often treated as an outpouring of grief, but here, in the hands of violinist Antje Weithaas, cellist Marie-Elisabeth Hecker, and pianist Watkins, it's something quite different: a series of memories of the child. Watkins' own "Speak Seven Seas," based on a nature poem by Dylan Thomas, is also beautifully suited to the space and the clarinet trio medium. A very fine live chamber music recital.