Moscow musicians in fine performances Recordings: Conservatory trio produces remarkable interpretations of works by Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Beethoven and Brahms.

Classical Sounds

October 26, 1997|By Stephen Wigler | Stephen Wigler,SUN MUSIC CRITIC

Tchaikovsky, Trio in A minor (Opus 50), Rachmaninoff, Trio No. 1 in G minor, performed by the Moscow Conservatory Trio (CMH Records CD-8020); Beethoven, Trio in C minor (Opus, No. BTC 3), Brahms, Trio in B major (Opus 8), performed by the Moscow Conservatory Trio (CMH Records CD-8021).

Few chamber music releases this year have given me as much pleasure as these discs from the Moscow Conservatory Trio.

Shriver Hall Concert Series subscribers probably recall the concert last season in which the trio (pianist Paul Ostrovsky, violinist Dmitri Berlinsky and cellist Suren Bagratuni) gave superb performances of Shostakovich's E minor Trio and Beethoven's "Archduke Trio." The performances recorded here are no less remarkable.

Their interpretation of the Brahms B major Trio ranks among the finest since the great 1941 account by Rubinstein, Heifetz and Feuermann.

Like that earlier trio of virtuosos (and like almost no other ensemble since), Ostrovsky, Berlinksi and Bagratuni take the composer at his word in his "Allegro con spirito" marking for the first movement. The result is a performance that clears away the debris that has accumulated over the years in performances that are too sober and too sentiment-laden to do justice to the fiery music of the young Brahms. The early Beethoven work also receives an appropriately dynamic performance.

The one-movement Rachmaninoff Trio, a student work written in memory of Tchaikovsky, is suitably elegiac.

And the one by Tchaikovsky (the latter's memorial to Nikolai Rubenstein), which can sound interminable in uncomprehending hands, receives a magnificent performance. In the first movement, while Ostrovsky plays boldly, he refrains from dominating the tuttis (most pianists are much less considerate in this piece).

The individual numbers within the theme-and-variations second movement are strongly characterized and linked by logic and drama. I have never heard the final variation -- in which the tragic mood of the Trio's opening resumes and which ends with the suggestion of a funeral cortege -- played more affectingly.

Pub Date: 10/26/97

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