David Nisbet Stewart composer
Emma-Ruth Richards composer
Joanne D. Carey composer
Allyson B. Wells composer
L Peter Deutsch composer
Christopher Brakel composer
Clare Shore composer
Keith Kramer composer
Mathew Fuerst composer
Sylvia Ahramjian violin
Ovidiu Marinescu cello
Anna Kislitsyna piano
Acclaimed international piano trio Trio Casals makes a triumphant return with the fourth installment of Navona Records’ MOTO series, zestfully interpreting nine new American compositions – virtually all of them either tailor-made or arranged for the ensemble.
The opening track, Three for Three by David Nisbet Stewart, could almost be considered a neoclassical piano trio – if you’re thinking along the lines of Prokofiev’s Love for Three Oranges. Like his Russian predecessor, Stewart chose to endow his composition with a perspicacious structure, along which the motives and modulations climb like vines on a trellis.
By contrast, the structure of Joanne Carey’s Piano Trio No.2 evolves from its themes and motifs which are varied and transformed throughout. Marked by sudden changes of mood, the trajectory of the piece is an overcoming of inner turmoil through the musical flow itself. In a similar vein, Keith Kramer utilizes Japanese and Northern Hindustani musical materials in a Modernist context in the aptly-titled Suspension of Disbelief.
Of course, where there is emotion, there must also be sentiment. Allyson Wells’ Since Then is a wistful meditation about the fact that mostly it is loss that teaches us about the value of things. L Peter Deutsch presents a lyrical, uncompromisingly aesthetic reminiscence about a day’s end in a Southern French town in Sunset at Montélimar. In Day Tripping, the listener joins Clare Shore in two cherished kayak paddles down memory lane; in the first movement, down Florida’s eponymous Peace River; in the second movement, down the agitated, surging, snaking, treacherous Juniper Run in the Ocala Forest.
The outstanding attention to detail paid by Trio Casals as a whole is interspersed with works of solo performers in two instances. One of them is Emma-Ruth Richards’ Dark Radiance, a somber piece for solo cello (performed by Tim Gills). The other, Christopher Brakel’s Poem (performed by Ovidiu Marinescu), reflects the cryptic, subjective nature of modern poetry, with its dramatic sense involuntarily alluding to the madrigals of Carlo Gesualdo.
In the closing minutes of MOTO QUARTO, Mathew Fuerst’s Totentanz (literally: death dance) somewhat belies somber expectations, for it refuses to ever be a mournful piece: rather, it examines the problem of (over-)population with mathematical mirth.
MOTO QUARTO features an eclectic, at times even daring, selection of compositions, no doubt; but this variety, which might have challenged a lesser ensemble, only serves as a touchstone for the virtuoso reception by Trio Casals.