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Cat. No. CHAN 9844 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 9844 - Clarke & Ives: Piano Trios
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Available From: 15 June 2000
Rebecca Clarke was born in Harrow, Middlesex of an American father and German mother. Chamber music was encouraged in the family, and she started playing the violin at the age of 8, going on to study at the Royal Academy of Music. She later became Stanford’s first female pupil at the Royal College of Music where she took up the viola with which she had a distinguished performing career. The summit of Clarke’s composing career was when her Viola Sonata, submitted anonymously, tied for first prize at the Berkshire Festival, Massachusetts. Her next landmark was the Piano Trio, it was the runner-up when she entered it for the 1921 contest. It was premiered in New York in the same year.

The three eloquent movements of the Piano Trio are ingeniously linked through the use of a repeated-note motto theme suggested at once in the piano and soon after delivered by the cello. ‘Lullaby’ (1918) is the first of two pieces for viola (or violin) and cello. The melody is set to a simple rocking bass. In ‘Midsummer Moon’ (1924), as in the Piano Trio, the harmony hovers on the edge of Scriabin’s mystic chord, but the piano has a second theme distinctly suggestive of English folksong.

Charles Ives had a double-career as a highly successful life-assurance man who composed during the night and at weekends, although this took its toll on his health. He used chamber music as a forum in which to experiment, knowing he was on his own and could give full rein to his quirky sense of humour. The first movement of his Piano Trio opens with a duet between cello and piano. A section for violin and piano follows; then the music of these two sections is superimposed, followed by a consonant ending. The hilarious Presto is a quodlibet of some twenty-five melodies, many of which would have been known to Ives as a student at Yale. The last movement ends with a mystical Adagio cantabile based on the hymn Rock of Ages played by the cello.
Reviews

‘The playing of the Bekova Sisters is most pleasing… The performances are enhanced by excellent Chandos sound.’
BBC Music magazine on CHAN 9632 (Martinu)

‘The Bekovas could hardly be more persuasive.’
Classic CD on CHAN 9742 (Franck Piano Trios)

‘…The Bekova Sisters respond with especial sensitivity to the beautiful instrumental writing…’
Gramophone on CHAN 9672 (Rimsky Korsakov/Mussorgsky)

 

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