CD Review – The Mirror with Three Faces

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The Mirror with Three Faces
Shostakovich: Piano Trio No. 2. Lera Auerbach: Piano Trios No. 1 and No. 2
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Delta Piano Trio. Odradek Records ODRCD350. Total Time: 63:40.

The Delta Piano Trio call their new disc The Mirror with Three Faces. Their account of Shostakovich’s second piano trio, dated 1944, leaves no doubt as to the composer’s state of mind in the closing stages of World War II. Ostensibly a tribute to a late friend, Ivan Sollertinsky, the work ripples with anger and frustration at pointless deaths and ruined lives – the appalling legacy of the Stalin-Hitler era. The last two movements, with their overt Hebrew melodies, are a protest at Soviet indifference to the Nazi Holocaust of the Jews. I have never heard the finale played with more explicit regard to the composer’s intentions.

This timeless masterpiece is paired with two trios by the post-Soviet composer Lera Auerbach, who settled in the United States, aged 17, in 1991. Musically, Auerbach occupies a post-Shostakovich estate, employing Bach bites and Mahlerian irony to drive a brisk, bleak, unsentimental outlook. Her collage technique, reminiscent of Alfred Schnittke though less aggressive, is effective in various surprising ways. The more recent of the two trios, dated 2012, dances very slowly on the edge of a volcano. Where Shostakovich blazed against the totalitarian state, Auerbach laments our present states of leaderless uncertainty. She’s a mature composer with a lot to say. Gerard Spronk, Irene Enzlin and Vera Kooper are the excellent trio players, and Odradek’s new Italian studio has an idyllic sound. NL

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About Author

Norman Lebrecht is a prolific writer on music and cultural affairs. His blog, Slipped Disc, is one of the most popular sites for cultural news. He presents The Lebrecht Interview on BBC Radio 3 and is a contributor to several publications, including the Wall Street Journal and The Standpoint. Visit every Friday for his weekly CD review.

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