DODERER The Piano Trios
A composition pupil of Beat Furrer with six operas under her belt, Vienna-based Johanna Doderer (b1969) has some big name supporters, notably Patricia Kopatchinskaja, to whom she has dedicated a violin concerto. Her style is emotionally explicit, direct and accessible, not noticeably Austrian except in its Mittel-European devotion to the sometimes problematic combination of violin, cello and piano. After grappling with cutting-edge techniques, Doderer seems to have been seduced by Shostakovich and the brand of consonance in vogue on the Baltic fringes of the old Soviet empire. There is no extraneous glitz and little if any knowing irony. Nor has she been afraid to look back to what will sound well in her chosen medium.
Capriccio’s non-chronological sequence begins with the Third Piano Trio, possibly the easiest to digest. Commemorating the Mahler jubilee, it contrasts mainstream post-minimalist bustle with cooler elegiac sections inspired by the sentiments of ‘Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen’. Its predecessor, composed for the Haydn year of 2009, put me in mind of Shostakovich at his most foursquare and academic (qv works such as the Piano Quintet). Eventually Doderer pushes into Schnittke-land, thumpiness melting away before a sweetly innocent cadence. The First Trio (2002) is closer still to Shostakovich and yet more relentless in its repetitiousness – some Górecki pieces function in much the same way. The simple/simplistic ending is inconclusive. Things loosen up in the more extended Fourth Trio (2013), where Doderer’s late-Romantic models are allowed fuller rein; once again the music stops without resolution.
One or two over-strenuous passages notwithstanding, this is a committed, spontaneous-sounding outing for the Norwegian/Lithuanian Vilos Trio, which takes its name from the players’ home towns (Vilnius and Oslo). All three would appear to be right inside the idiom. I have not heard the rival account of Doderer’s Second Trio by the Haydn Trio Eisenstadt (Capriccio, 9/09) but that is presented as part of a multi-composer Haydn-themed commissioning project and hence a rather different proposition. Given the faithful and immediate quality of the sound, this unassuming collection is certainly worth trying.