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The Shostakovich is a gutsy performance, magnificent in its grasp and fully in tune with the composer’s many faces. The keening gestures of the second movement are brilliantly achieved via the tightest ensemble, the third movement Passacaglia is hypnotically executed and the macabre dance of death that is the finale moves forward with chilling, inexorable momentum. The piano is superbly recorded, and the balance between the three musicians expertly judged.

While Shostakovich’s Second Piano Trio is at least vaguely well-known, the music of Lera Auerbach demands to be heard. Born in Russia, Auerbach emigrated to the States in 1991. Her music is far from unknown – a disc of piano music by Ksenia Nosikova is notable – but it is a way from receiving the recognition it richly deserves.

Auerbach’s Piano Trio No.1 (1992/4) is an early work that begins with a traditional emphasis on counterpoint; but its first movement ends with remarkably effective seagull imitations. Irene Enzlin’s cello sings expressively in the Andante lamentoso. The virtuosity of the finale (a Presto) reaches a plateau of Shostakovich-like, post-cataclysm stasis. Moving forward some 20 years, the second trio, Triptych: The Mirror with Three Faces takes inspiration from a hinged mirror: three faces, but are they the same person? Contrasts are critical, from the frozen first movement to the grand gestures of the fleeting second, thence to a Shostakovich-influenced Waltz. A wonderful, enriching performance of a piece that demands attention.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica

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