FAURÉ; SAINT-SAËNS; d'INDY Piano Trios
This highly accomplished group, based in New York, takes its name from the legendary pianist Mieczysław Horszowski (1892-1993). Pianist Rieko Aizawa was Horszowski’s last pupil and the programme reflects this connection: Horszowski met both Saint-Saëns and Fauré, and in his youth moved in the same Parisian circles as d’Indy.
The playing in the Saint-Saëns makes the most of the clear textures and lively rhythms, and shows a keen appreciation of its witty interplay of themes. In the Andante, a most original movement, with a ballad-like theme accompanied only by a single sustained pitch, there’s a most effective contrast between the remoteness of this melody and the rich, even sensuous sound of the harmonised episodes.
The trio achieve an impressive change of style for the Fauré, stressing blended sounds and a natural flow. Not that they perform this penultimate work of Fauré’s old age in a bland manner: its more intense passages show passionate involvement. And the pacing of the central Andante seems to me just right – plenty of space for its lyricism to expand while keeping a strong sense of stately onward movement.
The d’Indy is another late work, written in 1929, two years before his death. Here he attempts a marriage between his own post-Franckian style and the idioms of the classical French suite. The most attractive movement, for me, is the Courante – more a leisurely amble than a run but inspiring some memorably expressive writing. This, too, receives an exemplary performance, and I long to hear more of the Horszowski Trio.