Saturday 5 November 2016

Trio Koch delivers wonderful performances that are full of spirit and energy on their new release for Etcetera Records of works for two violins and piano by Moszkowski, Milhaud and Martinů

Trio Koch is a family trio consisting of father, daughter and son Philippe (violin), Laurence (violin) and Jean-Philippe Koch (piano) who explore the little-played repertoire of trio pieces for two violins and piano covering all periods from Bach to Shostakovich and Berio. They have performed in many countries including France, Luxembourg, Belgium and Japan

Their new release for Etcetera Records brings together works for two violins and piano by Moszkowski, Milhaud and Martinů

KTC 1543

A trailer for this release and three videos are available at the following links:

Music Videos

Prussian born Moritz Moszkowski (1854-1925) wrote his Suite in G minor for two violins and piano, Op.71 in 1903 whilst living in Paris where he had moved to in 1897. As a teacher in Paris his students included Vlado Perlemuter, Thomas Beecham, Josef Hofmann, Wanda Landowska, and Gaby Casadesus.

Trio Koch bring a fiery, energetic opening to the Allegro energico before pushing ahead with a really fine forward rolling flow, the strings finding every dynamic and subtle variation of tempi with some lovely incisive playing revealing some fine string textures. The Allegro moderato has a lovely gentle opening that soon develops through some lovely weaving of violin lines over a constantly varying piano part before reaching the coda with pizzicato strings. This is a movement on the lighter side but full of lovely ideas.

The piano opens the slow, deeply felt Lento assai with these players keeping a fine forward flow as this lovely melody unfolds, never allowing the music to descend into sentimentality. The Molto vivace brings a terrific rhythmic fizz full of life and energy, perhaps the most individual movement of the whole work. The two violins swirl around over a buoyant piano accompaniment with an attractive slower trio section in which the two violins add some lovely textures and harmonies before hurtling to the coda

This is an attractive work that never outstays its welcome, particularly in such a fine performance as this.

Darius Milhaud’s (1892-1974) Sonata for two violins and piano, Op.15 dates from 1914. Having been rejected for army service due to ill health, the composer had returned to his native Aix-en-Provence to stay with his parents.

The strings conjure some lovely textures in the opening theme of the Animé, echoed by the piano. Trio Koch brings a lovely lightness of texture as the happy theme develops, adding firmer string textures and piano phrases through more incisive passages. There are exquisite little violin textures and a slow section where the theme is taken through a more thoughtful variation, these players bringing some quite lovely moments. The music picks up through an energetic, incisive passage before finding a gentle, slower coda.

These three players conjure a quite wonderful Modéré, gently shaping this glorious music to perfection. They find a rare beauty, finding subtle increases in tempo and dynamics. The music falls back to an exquisite moment where one violin weaves the melody over the other, holding shimmering textures. Soon, the piano takes the theme over both shimmering violins. Milhaud creates some quite wonderful ideas and textures, brilliantly revealed by this trio. Later there are beautifully limpid piano phrases that underscore the violin lines.

The trio brings much energy and vibrancy to the Très vif, developing through some fast moving passages with terrific ensemble. Later there is a slower, quieter more ruminative section before the music finds a lighter texture to move ahead with these players weaving some lovely harmonies before the music seemingly runs out of energy as it leads to a quiet, slow coda.

Here is a trio of much beauty and fine ideas wonderfully revealed by Trio Koch.

Bohuslav Martinů’s (1890-1959) Sonatina for two violins and piano, H.198 was written in 1930 whilst he was living in Paris. It is one of two such works, the other being his Sonata for Two Violins and Piano, H. 213 (1932 Paris).

There is an incisive, vibrant opening to the Allegro with this trio giving very fine attention to all the little rhythmic variations, shaping the music so well. There is a more flowing passage before the opening returns to take us to a beautifully tailored coda. The Andante brings some very fine harmonies and textures for strings with a lovely piano part that works around the strings. The two violins weave some lovely textures over insistent piano chords, through moments of more melancholic feel before developing richer string textures over the insistent piano before leading to a lovely coda. 

There is a vibrant, fast moving Allegretto where these three players seem to find much pleasure racing around each other, showing terrific accuracy and intuitive ensemble with a terrific spring to their playing. The Poco allegro takes off with energy, these players weaving some terrific, insistent phrases, always keeping a fine buoyancy – and of course that fine rhythmic spring.

This is a work that is full of terrific ideas, brilliantly realised by this trio.

Trio Koch delivers wonderful performances that are full of spirit and energy as well as moments of much sensitivity. They certainly convinced me of the merits of these three works. 

They receive an excellent recording and there are useful booklet notes.

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