Contemporary American Piano Trios [Music & Arts CD 756] has been out for a couple years (1993) but since I suspect it is a relatively hard to find recording, and one that is well worth knowing, I'd like to take it for a "spin" in this review.
The recording features the Francesco Trio, a veteran west coast ensemble, performing works by four American composers: Andrew Imbrie, Seymour Shifrin, John Harbison and Mel Powell. The works presented here span over thirty years and represent, as the liner notes indicate, works by composers with whom the Francesco Trio has had some close relationship. The idea of such collaboration is very appealing to me and suggests what I consider one of those rare rewards which a composer in America might hope for.
Imbrie's Trio #2 (1969) was commissioned by the Francesco Trio. It is a profoundly lyrical and beautiful work that is at times quite complex and always rather dramatic. Imbrie's counterpoint never becomes opaque or cluttered, but rather, carries the music ever forward in the most natural and convincing manner. Imbrie's music is one of line, balance and motion and this trio, I believe, exemplifies all of these traits quite clearly. The trio, it should be noted, is a very large and substantial work: three movements that consume a full half hour without a single superfluity. (For more on Imbrie's music, see the related review of Parnassus playing his chamber music).
1995 Bruce Quaglia, all rights reserved.
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