Here's your disc of the week for March 3, 2013. Each week CBC Radio 2's In Concert looks at new classical music releases and selects one recording that you'll want to know about.
Artists: Zodiac Trio: Kliment Krylovskiy, clarinet; Vanessa Mollard, violin; Riko Higuma, piano.
Repertoire: Trios by Igor Stravinsky, Nicolas Bacri, Galina Ustvolskaya and Béla Bartók.
Label: Blue Griffin.
Call them just a bunch of crazy kids, but the members of the Zodiac Trio − clarinetist Kliment Krylovskiy, violinist Vanessa Mollard and pianist Riko Higuma − have set out on an admittedly Quixotic musical mission: to make this relatively rare combination of instruments a permanent fixture of the chamber music establishment. These talented American-educated players admit that the chamber world belongs to the string quartet and the piano trio. But, they hope, not for long.
With their debut recording, the Zodiac Trio makes a compelling case for the appeal of this unusual crowd. "We learned," they note, "that the originally thought-to-be disadvantageous mix of two soprano instruments so different in timbre can in fact be a difference to celebrate − an infinite palette of colours at our fingertips when presented correctly." And boldly.
Things get started with Stravinsky's Suite for Clarinet, Violin and Piano from L'histoire du soldat, a snappy arrangement played with devilish panache. The intense, idiosyncratic music of Galina Ustvolskaya, the long-neglected doyenne of Soviet composers, is here, along with Bartók's Contrasts, written originally for the American jazz clarinetist Benny Goodman.
And there's a new discovery, at least for North Americans. It's the music of French composer Nicolas Bacri, represented by his neo-classical pastiche entitled A Smiling Suite, played with finesse and easy charm.
While not exactly storming the barricades, the Zodiac Trio makes a compelling case for the clarinet trio. Interesting repertoire, expertly played, certainly helps win the battle.
Listen:Bacri: A Smiling Suite
Disc of the week: James Ehnes plays Béla Bartók
Disc of the week: Lara St. John and Polkastra play wedding music
Disc of the week: Janina Fialkowska plays Mozart