"The spirit of the East haunts Ravel’s 1914 Piano Trio - perhaps a musical antidote to the outbreak of World War I. Airy, refined textures dominate the piece, the piano part often being brittle and staccato, the cello descending in the Passacaglia to its lowest registers. Always, Ravel’s sense of color and instrumental interplay finds inspiration in extra-musical sources, such as the Pantoum Scherzo, modeled on a verse form which the Symbolist Verlaine, Baudeliare, and Victor Hugo had adopted for their poetry. The weaving motif, along with the high trill of the violin in the last movement and its statement of the sinuous main theme combine elegance and virtuosity directly, without self-consciousness. Ravel dedicated the piece to his counterpoint teacher Andre Gedalge in tribute to his admiration for pure form. The realization of this delicious piece by Pascal Roge and his colleagues extends his well-deserved repute as an exponent of Gallic repertory. Deft and transparent, the ensemble glides through Ravel’s whirling phrases like a hot knife through butter. So liquid is the performance, taped 2002, that it ends almost as quickly as it had begun; so you will have to hear it again.
Chausson composed his first chamber work, the Op. 3 Trio, in 1881. Its immediate model is Franck’s Piano Quintet, whose dark harmonic progressions and angry energies permeate the Pas trop lent--Allegro anime opening movement. Initiates may hear allusions to Franck’s Psyche et Eros. Typical of the cyclic composers, all of the themes of the first movement will reappear in altered form in the finale. Richly thick textures threaten to collapse of their own Wagnerian orchestral weight. Occasionally, a liquid figure in the piano will hint of Loeffler. The Scherzo is brisk and four-square, with a touch of Saint-Saens. Chausson’s undisputed capacity for elegiac song ensues in the Assez lent movement, with its thick doubling of the parts. Cello and piano collaborate for some hefty chords before the violin and piano dilute the mix. Debussy had commented on "the overbearing weight" of Chausson’s musical ideas, not entirely beguiled by the young composer’s efforts. The opening, breezy elements of the Anime finale soon yield to that darker impulse which dominates the work, although a nervous energy transforms the former applications of the other movements‚ ideas in novel effects. Again, the Roge trio plays with verve and passion, the third movement unfolding like a mighty French nocturne. Admirers of Pascal Roge, whose Debussy Preludes for this same Onyx label mightily impressed me last year, will embrace this disc with unreserved enthusiasm."
Audiophile Audition - 2 February 2006
"These performances, by Roge and his regular chamber music partners Mie Kobayashi and Yoko Hasegawa, breathe an intimacy and refinement that is not just seductive but unmistakably Gallic. Unlike the Beaux Arts Trio recording of the Ravel, long considered a classic, no-one here is trying to prove the music’s point, which only adds to its "inner beauty" . Natural light and colour are well to the fore in the faster movements, poise and delicacy in the Passacaglia. The Chausson, by contrast, demands and gets playing of broader temperament."
Financial Times - 10 December 2005
"Three fine players in lucid, affectionate performances of French repertoire
Following his Debussy Préludes for Onyx (7/05), Pascal Rogé continues with this thoughtful disc of trios, sympathetically partnered by Mie Kobayashi and Yoko Hasegawa. Rogé has described his gods as Bach, Beethoven and Schumann, with Poulenc, Debussy and Satie as his friends. And so, too, are Ravel and Chausson, to judge by his finely sensitive performances.
Ravel’s swaying, insinuating opening theme could hardly be played more lucidly or affectionately and its final return is full of hushed magic, a far cry from smarter, more metropolitan and impersonal readings. The Pantoum (the title deriving from an exotic type of eastern poetry) is vivacious rather than aggressive and the entire performance, even in moments of heightened drama and intensity, is unforced, its sparkle gentle rather than metallic or self-consciously virtuosic.
Chausson’s early Trio is remote from such ultra-Gallic refinement and sophistication, its opening Pas trop lent romantically troubled in a style clearly deriving from César Franck’s recently completed Piano Quintet. The second movement Vite, on the other hand, falls like manna from heaven after so much chromatic turbulence. Both here and in the finale Chausson breaks out into a reassuring lightness which has its origins in Saint-Saëns.
Such alternating solace and despair are beautifully realised by Rogé and his colleagues. Slightly more edge would have benefited the matted textures of the Chausson but the warm and fluid Onyx sound reflects performances of a quiet but unmistakable authority"
Gramophone - January 2006
"Certainly, there have been several tremendous recordings of Ravel’s A minor Piano Trio over the years -- Richter, Kagan, and Gutman’s heroic performance and Heifetz, Piatigorsky, and Rubinstein’s sentimental performance come immediately to mind -- and, certainly, there have been a couple of tremendous recordings of Chausson’s G minor Piano Trio over the years -- Pasquier, Pasquier, and Pennetier’s virtuosic performance and Devoyon, Graffin, and Hoffman’s emotional performance likewise come to mind, if less immediately. But while there have been two recordings coupling Ravel and Chausson’s piano trios, neither has been tremendous: the Beaux Arts Trio’s performances were highly polished but too introverted, while the Trio Wanderer’s performances were deeply passionate but too extroverted. This 2005 recording of Ravel and Chausson’s piano trios with pianists Pascal Rogé, violinist Mie Kobayashi, and cellist Yoko Hasegawa is very, very close to tremendous. Rogé, of course, is an internationally acknowledged first-class French pianist whose readings are as polished as they are passionate, and with Kobayashi and Hasegawa, he has found partners who ideally match his approach. In the Ravel, they are ardent but correctly a tad ironic. In the Chausson, they are fervent but appropriately a bit reserved. And in both works, they are completely on top of the notes. For listeners looking for the two key works in the French piano trio repertoire coupled on a single disc, the Rogé, Kobayashi, and Hasegawa recording is a first choice. Onyx’s sound is near but not too near and big but not too big."
American Record Guide
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