Trio Gaspard has released their second album of the year, Berlin Stories. This is the groups fourth release on Chandos Records.
Berlin Stories is the first in a new series of recordings by Trio Gaspard, focussed on different cultural capitals and composers associated with them. The album features three composers who lived and worked in Berlin for a period of their lives – for different reasons and in varying circumstances.
Mendelssohn’s grandfather, Moses, was a philosopher and leader of the Haskalah, or Jewish Enlightenment, establishing a pre-eminent position for the family in Berlin, and creating the opportunities for both Felix and Fanny to realise their musical potential. The Second Piano Trio is a perfect example of Mendelssohn’s style, combining a total mastery of classical structure and counterpoint with romantic sensibility.
Moscow-born, but of Swiss parentage, Paul Juon came to Berlin in 1894 to study composition at the city’s foremost Conservatory, and remained in the city until he retired, to Switzerland, in 1934. Litaniae, his fourth piano trio, is unlike anything else in the piano trio repertoire. It is cast as a single movement and resembles Richard Strauss’s tone poems in scale and ambition.
The Greek composer Nikos Skalkottas arrived in Berlin in 1921, and stayed until 1933. He studied composition with a number of leading tutors, before spending five years with Arnold Schoenberg. His Eight Variations exemplify his ability to combine serial composition with his native folk music. All the members of Trio Gaspard have lived or still live in Berlin and Berlin Stories expresses their love and admiration for this endlessly fascinating and invigorating metropolis.