ROBERT KAHN - Piano Trios

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ROBERT KAHN - Piano Trio Op. 19 - Piano Trio Op. 33 - Max Brod Trio - Hybrid SACD - 760623194066 - Released: February 2016 - MDG Audiomax 9031940-6

With the Piano Trio Op. 19 in E major masterfully crafted with the extensive use of rich melodic lines and solid interplay between the three instruments, and the Piano Trio Op. 33 in E flat major driven forward by a strong rhythmic pulse that propells it to a rousing finish, it is dumbfounding to comprehend how German composer Robert Kahn (1865-1951) could have been ignored and overlooked for so long. After all, Johannes Brahms much admired his work, and in his role as teacher at the Conservatory, two of his most illustrious students were Wilhelm Kempff and Arthur Rubinstein. There is a natural intensity to his music that manifests itself by constant and fluid momentum, and masterful interplay between the instruments. His color palette fits somewhere in between the dark hues of Brahms and the bright yellows of Schubert. The melody of the op. 19 slow movement may be a bit maudlin but the riches of detail in the piano part well counteract that impression. And yet the op. 33 slow movement sounds more like something Chopin, had he written piano trios, would have composed. FANFARE reviewer Jerry Dubins wrote of his Trio for Clarinet, Violin and Piano: "To tell you that Kahnís Clarinet Trio begins with one of the most haunting melodies Iíve ever heard, or that its slow movement (really an Allegretto quasi andantino) conveys an inexpressible sadness wrapped in a blanket of benevolent consolation, can only begin to express the indescribable beauty of this music and the effect it had upon me." He composed a large number of works, including over 1,000 piano pieces, most of which were never published due to a ban on his music by the Nazis because he was Jewish.

The level and range of expression the Max Brod Trio bring to these pieces certainly adds to their appeal. They seem to instinctively know when to push for more and when to pull back. Their flexible phrasing well compliments the music's forward momentum and the ease with which they allow the flow of the melodic material to slide from one instrument to the next is commendable. The gravitas they express in one moment and the thrill of elation in the next is what brings this music to life. Plaudits to the people at MDG Audiomax for exploring, researching and releasing fresh material like this, with impressive sonics to boot, for all music fans to enjoy. We certainly don't need yet another Mozart recording on our shelves. Keep on explorin' !

Jean-Yves Duperron - April 2016