"The young "Trio Gaspard" fills the Martinstadl with vitality and esprit in the chamber music cycle."
- Ulrich Pfaffenberger, Zorneding, April 2022
"This generous, natural-sounding recording was made in Potton Hall last summer. Guest soloist Katharina Konradi is not easily pigeonholed. The first internationally recognised soprano from Kyrgyzstan, she left for Germany in her teens and may be most familiar to UK readers as a past BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist. A previous recital disc for the AVI-Music label offered relatively conventional fare: Richard Strauss, Mozart and Schubert. Here she joins Trio Gaspard, migrants from the same label who hail from Germany, Greece and the UK. Recently signed to Chandos, the group is intent on setting down every Haydn piano trio and more besides. The repertoire this time is different, Russian in the broadest, Putinesque sense. To quote from the accompanying note: ‘Here we have indigenous roots, roots recalled by exiles (Gubaidulina, Auerbach), roots brought in (Weinberg), and roots transplanted out (Beethoven), all producing their own particular fruits and flowers. Perhaps what is enduringly Russian about them is that, enjoying a vast geography, they have all been contained – and often constrained – by the country’s history.’ Paul Griffiths is responsible for that elegant attempt to validate the selection.
In almost every respect the programme is a success. The Beethoven folk-song settings of 1816 might look something of an outlier, with Auerbach’s nostalgic, bite-size Postscriptum (performed in a version for wordless voice, cello and piano) the one 21st-century item. Both prove delightful. The players’ sympathy with a range of styles is well established and Konradi’s idiomatic Russian (first of her many languages) is an obvious asset. She might best be described as a lyric soprano with added sparkle, turning up the Slavic vibrancy where required with no hint of shrillness. Her voice is a good deal lighter and more crystalline than we are used to in Shostakovich’s Seven Romances on Poems by Alexander Blok, where older listeners may miss the darker heft of Galina Vishnevskaya. The results are certainly easier on the ear and more precisely pitched when the music goes into overdrive. Of the shorter songs without words, Stravinsky’s early Pastorale, often performed in transcription as a deadpan harbinger of neoclassicism, recovers a certain sensuality. Less successful is a reimagining of Rachmaninov’s oft-arranged Vocalise. With three instruments dropping in and out, the composer’s seamless phrasing of an essentially binary conversation is undermined. By contrast Weinberg’s wartime songs, the first and last sung to ‘la’, work just fine in a version by the cellist Alexander Oratovsky effected in 2004.
A purely instrumental interlude in the form of Shostakovich’s First Piano Trio may not thrill Konradi fans but it’s a fine account of an early piece that exhibits many of the composer’s – and Russia’s – aesthetic paradoxes. The essential full texts and occasionally garbled translations are provided. Strongly recommended."
- David Gutman, Gramophone, February 2022 ("Russian Roots" album review)
"The three young musicians (two men, one woman) did this by letting the sounds flow unforcedly, even relaxed, despite all their expressiveness. The sweetness of the violin (Jonas Ilias Kadesha) and the melt of the cello (Vashti Hunter) hopefully combined with the sometimes ethereally tinkling, sometimes romantically stretched piano sound of Nicholas Rimmer to a euphony, which in turn told various stories, both mystical and sensual.
Conversely, in Mendelssohn's incredibly vital Trio No. 2, the passion carried to the extreme over a wide area turned into the stillness of a prayer, where violin and cello increased their tone from spellbound calm to excited vibrato in an intimate dialogue. The ensemble itself thus became the most important discovery of the entire programme."
- Luzerner Zeitung, January 2022