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Hyperion Records

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The Harvest (1914) by Boris Mikhailovich Kustodiev (1878-1927)
Astrakhan State Gallery B M Kostodiev, Astrakhan, Russia / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67573
Recording details: January 2008
Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: October 2008
Total duration: 25 minutes 1 seconds

'It would be hard to over-praise the Leopold Trio's performances. Agility and all-round aplomb … warmth and colour … structural and idiomatic awareness … fine recording quality and helpful annotation too; so no reason not to invest' (Gramophone)

'Listening to the three trios that the Leopold String Trio present with such commitment and persuasiveness leaves no doubt as to Taneyev's contrapuntal ingenuity and resource … excellent recorded sound makes this a rewarding issue in every way' (BBC Music Magazine)

'There is … an individual creative spark, urgency and textural richness that the Leopolds communicate with sensitivity and terrific panache' (The Daily Telegraph)

'The Leopold String Trio … are arguably the leading such trio in the world … Taneyev was one of the greatest Russian musicians of his time. His mastery of the craft of composition was legendary among his contemporaries—he was praised especially by Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov … the three string trios on this Hyperion CD make a very important contribution to our knowledge of Russian chamber music of the period … each stands alone as the individual product of a great musician, making this issue a CD of no little importance … a fascinating and at times enthralling listening experience … the music is inherently Russian, beautifully composed and so varied in convincing expression that the attentive listener is at once drawn into the composer's world. This is wonderful music, wonderfully performed and recorded … highly recommended' (International Record Review)

'Star pupil of Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov's mentor, Taneyev was also a fine composer, as witness these enchanting, beguilingly performed gems' (Classic FM Magazine)

'The competition isn't quite up to their level … the Leopold String Trio versions are, to my ear, as good as it gets' (Fanfare, USA)

String Trio in D major
1879/80; published in 1956

Allegro  [8'24]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The String Trio in D major was written in 1879–80. The manuscript carries on its last page a handwritten testimonial from Tchaikovsky, dated 10 April 1880, recording that the older composer had read through the Trio and been astonished by Taneyev’s skill. But it apparently had only one performance in Taneyev’s lifetime, and remained unpublished until 1956.

The D major Trio is a strongly classicizing, even ‘neo-classical’ conception, evoking shades of Handel, Bach and especially Mozart (Taneyev must have known Mozart’s great Divertimento in E flat for string trio, K563). The first movement is a melodious sonata-form design, with an intimate and mellifluous second subject in which the Mozartian parallels are particularly close. The exposition is repeated, in classical style. The development, however, is occupied by a muscular fugue, with prominent dotted rhythms, where J S Bach is more clearly the model.

The second movement is one of Taneyev’s typically elaborate polyphonic inventions, a ‘Scherzo in contrapunto alla riversa’ (Scherzo in mirrored counterpoint)—something Taneyev was particularly proud of composing: he pointed out in a letter to Tchaikovsky that this was in the spirit of the contrapuntal language of Mozart’s string quartets and quintets. However, the piece does not sound at all academic—it is more whimsical and delicately darting in its motion, while the central Trio has the character of a heavy-footed peasant dance. The Adagio ma non troppo slow movement is a comparatively short, bittersweet meditation. The Allegro molto finale, however, is a rondo of pronounced Russian character, with lively fugal writing in the episodes, the coda speeding up to a scurrying, excited finish.

from notes by Calum MacDonald © 2008

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