REGER: Piano Trio in E min. 3 Pieces, Op. 79d. 2 Pieces, Op. 79e / Artium Trio / Brilliant Classics BRI95727
The Artium Trio—Francisco Lima Santos, violinist, Pedro Gomes Silva, cellist and João Barata, pianist—is a fairly young group. Their only “home page” is on Facebook. And here, this group of young musicians tackles the music of one of the thickest and at times dreariest of composers, jolly old Max Reger. An organist, Reger wrote music that, although interesting, always seemed to be tied in to Lutheran chorales, mixed with a fair amount of counterpoint which he learned from Bach.
I can’t say that they completely eliminate the dreary from Reger’s music—after all, it’s in the notes—but they clearly approach his scores with a Latin energy that is immensely refreshing. The strings play with a lean tone that is decidedly anti-German in feeling, and pianist Barata attacks the keyboard with gusto. With that being said, and with all due respect to these fine musicians, I still found the first movement of the Piano Trio to be fairly turgid music. You can only do so much to dress up dour music and try to make it sound cheerful. They do an exceptionally fine job on the final “Allegro con moto.”
Much to my surprise, however, most of the short pieces played here are among Reger’s lightest and most charming works, excepting the Romanze in D major from the Op. 79c set, which is typical Romantic drivel.
Basically a good album, then, although even this energetic young group could only do so much to resuscitate the mostly dreary Trio.
—© 2021 Lynn René Bayley
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