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Rachmaninoff: The Élégiaque Piano Trios

- CD Reviews

Sergei Rachmaninoff: The Élégiaque Piano Trios
2001 Tavros Records

Piano Trio in D minor, Op. 9
Piano Trio in G minor, Op. Posth.

Yung Wook Yoo on Piano
Julia Sakharova on Violin
Margrét Arnadóttir on Cello

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 22, 2006

(Read about a Live Performance of These Trios at Bösendorfer New York)

According to Hillary Hauser’s liner notes, this CD was created after the producers discovered the talented trio at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, CA, at Jerome Lowenthal’s chamber music master class. After the trio played the first movement of Rachmaninoff’s Trio Élégiaque in D minor, the producers were determined to record these same three musicians in the full Rachmaninoff elegy to the memory of the late Tchaikovsky. The producers also added Rachmaninoff’s Trio Élégiaque in G minor, which was composed by Rachmaninoff in the conservatory. The D-minor Trio was first performed by Rachmaninoff at the piano in 1894, one year after Tchaikovsky’s death. Korean, Yung Wook Yoo, Russian, Julia Sakharova, and Icelandic, Margrét Arnadóttir are the three musicians.

All Tracks (First three tracks are Piano Trio in D minor, and fourth track is Piano Trio in G minor:

#1–Moderato-Allegro Moderato – This track of the first movement is so piercing and riveting, that it is no wonder that the producers were so determined to record this trio on hearing it the first time. The initial piano entrance that takes on alternate string accompaniment with six echoing notes is haunting and cries on its own, obviously exemplifying the youthful Rachmaninoff’s deep despair at his champion’s untimely death from cholera, a champion who was responsible for Rachmaninoff’s first successes. There is quietude and driven drama, calmness and cacophony. This track is worthy of a recording on its own. The three young musicians evoke a level of mature emotion through their internalized interpretations.

#2 –Quasi Variazione – With Yung Wook Yoo’s solo piano introduction, Julia Sakharova’s and Margrét Arnadóttir’s echoing refrains are like raindrops falling. Wook Yoo is able to vary the mood with slower and rapidly paced passages in melodic keyboard waterfalls. The tonal pain exuded by solo and duo strings, overlaying the lower piano chords, is palpable.

#3 –Allegro Risoluto – With a frenzied piano introduction, this movement bubbles over with angst. One refrain moves higher and higher and higher on the scale, led by the strings, with a racing piano exploding with emotion. Wook Yoo keeps his piano on equal level to the affect of Sakharova’s violin and Arnadóttir’s cello. The Trio ends with emerging silence.

#4 –Lento Lugubre – This Trio opens with the cello and then violin in feathery fast notes, followed by piano as profoundly slower contrast. All at once, the cello takes the slower theme, followed by violin, and this Trioends as silently as the first.

Rachmaninoff - The Élégiaque Piano Trios

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