Deutsche Grammophon announces this as Lang Lang’s first CD of chamber music and, on the whole, it is successful. The Tchaikovsky Trio was written in 1881 in memory of Nicholas Rubinstein, pianist and founder of Moscow’s Conservatory – a man who had both praised and denounced Tchaikovsky and who aroused conflicting emotions in him. It consists of two movements – a Pezzo elegiaco and a theme with 11 variations and a coda. The second movement was considered by Tchaikovsky’s contemporaries to be a musical portrait of Rubinstein’s many-faceted personality.
The music does not sound particularly elegiac. It is typically Tchaikovskian in its melodies and depth of emotion, but sometimes seems a bit too long for its material. The distinguished performers treat the music sensitively, accurately and with considerable exuberance. At times, particularly in the coda of the second movement, they might be considered too vehement and sometimes push their tone too much.
The Rachmaninov Trio (not to be confused with his later and better known Trio elegiaco) is a youthful work written in four days when the composer was 19. It is in one movement with many tempo variations and many contrasting moods. It is a self-contained piece of music of considerable drama and interest and cannot be dismissed as a mere piece of juvenilia. Lang Lang, Maisky and Repin play it for all it is worth.