Yorkshire Times
Weekend Edition
Andrew Palmer
Group Editor
12:02 AM 4th May 2024

Classical Music: A Room Of Her Own

A Room of Her Own

Lili Boulanger D’un matin de printemps; D’un soir triste; Dame Ethel Smyth Piano Trio in D minor; Cecile Chaminade Piano Trio No. 1 in G minor, Op. 11; Germaine Tailleferre Piano Trio

The Neave Trio
Anna Williams (violin), Mikhail Veslov (cello)
Eri Nakamura (piano)

Chandos CHAN 20238

I’ve had one of those moments. Checking off the list of discs to review, I inadvertently forgot I had the Neave Trio’s latest disc from February to bring to your attention. I put it on and realised I had done you, our readers, an injustice. A Room of Her Own once again champions the works of female composers, three from France and one from England, and one thing is for sure: this trio's accomplished fine playing is certainly not forgettable. The musical lines and phrasing have lovely beauty and intensity, creating a striking and powerful ensemble that successfully conjures up each piece's mood. The Neave Trio's performance is a persuasive argument for these compositions to be heard more often.

Lili Boulanger’s D’un matin de printemps and D’un soir triste are perhaps now better known in their orchestral versions; this recording shows that the two pieces work equally well at either scale. They are among the last compositions of her short life (she died of chronic illness at twenty-four). With a lucid performance, the Neave Trio fully immerse themselves in this piece. An impressive start to the disc.

Just a year before Smyth's birth, Cécile Chaminade composed her first piano trio. Critics responded positively to the Paris premiere, which led to the publication of the Trio a year later. The performance is warm, highlighting the andante's lovely, elegant tones and exquisite melody. The presto leggiero features a delightful piano accompaniment. The lightness of touch and rubato throughout is lovely. 

Germaine Tailleferre’s Piano Trio began life in 1916–17 as a work in three movements and then gathered dust for over sixty years until a commission from France’s Ministère de la Culture in 1978 enabled Tailleferre to revive and re-imagine it. What a composer! This trio has much to merit in terms of harmonic language and elements of wit. All three perform the short moderato in a captivating manner, each making lovely contributions.

Ethel Smyth’s Piano Trio is one of her earliest works, composed in 1880. Like many of her works from this era, it pays homage to the Austro-German influences of her studies in Leipzig, particularly Brahms. Its pleasant simplicity and lyricism make it a charming piece. The scherzo third movement has plenty of energy. They perform the finale allegro vivace with dynamism.

The interaction between each player is impressive; the resonance and tone lift the music, and for a disc of relatively unknown pieces, it is one that anyone who loves the genre will relish.

A point to end: If one listens to Radio 3 these days, there is an excellent balance between male and female composers, and it is to the station's credit that it does not make this an issue. Surely, female composers rightly and naturally are part of mainstream music now? I certainly hope so.