ARENSKY Piano Trios
The Wilkomirski Trio are endorsed by the Wilkomirski Family Foundation, whose mission is to continue the artistic legacy of a distinguished 20th-century Polish musical dynasty. And although no members of this young Polish ensemble are related to the family, they play with a definite feeling for tradition. The string players use wide, lush vibrato and unselfconscious portamentos; pianist Łukasz Trepczyński dispatches great cascades of notes in the grand manner. These performances of Arensky’s two piano trios are spacious, committed and played as if these artists mean what they’re saying.
And make no mistake: Arensky doesn’t get more compelling than the D minor First Trio – a brooding masterpiece written as an elegy for the great cellist Karl Davidoff. The Wilkomirskis approach it with ardour, tempered by a touching reticence: details such as violinist Celina Kotz’s little hesitations over the semiquavers in the opening theme or the inwardness they find in the final pages of the fourth movement throw a potent air of melancholy over their whole account. In the less familiar but still rewarding F minor Second Trio they capture the music’s shifting moods with verve, bringing a vivid sense of character to the long final set of variations.
But there’s strong competition in this repertoire, and the tinny, slightly recessed recorded sound of the piano, combined with Kotz’s occasional severity of tone in louder passages, might send some listeners instead to the relative finesse of the Leonore Trio on Hyperion. Hyperion’s recorded sound is clearer, and in the scherzos – two of Arensky’s most sparkling inspirations – the Leonores find a lightness and swing that eludes their Polish rivals. But there’s still much to enjoy here – and more than one way to skin a cat.