RACHMANINOV Piano Trios / Ashkenazy 4785346

. . . chords resonate, melodies flow and passion and melancholy walk hand in hand. Have a handkerchief ready.

[Trio no. 2]: Ashkenazy, Visontay and Lidström tap the vein of grief coursing through this music, inspired . . . They also unleash passion . . .

. . . the piano writing already has the fluency of Rachmaninov's later music, and it's Vladimir Ashkenazy's treatment of that -- wonderfully coloured and full-bodied without ever becoming overbearing -- that's the main pleasure of this disc.

. . . a long and distinguished Rachmaninov discography for Decca . . . [Both trios are] played here with responsibly and with Ashkenazy's well-honed instinct . . . [Piano Trio no. 2]: The overwrought first movement is nicely tempered by some soft contemplative playing; the variations of the second movement hold their own; and there is apt nervous tension in the finale to complement the distraught keening gestures that testify to the depth of Rachmaninov's grief.

Such a lifelong devotion to this composer brings great dividends in these performances which are notable for their control and emotional restraint. Even in the sections where the composer unleashes passagework of considerable pianistic virtuosity, Ashkenazy is scrupulously discreet, avoiding any temptation to swamp his excellent string partners with over-heated gestures . . . wonderfully balanced textures . . . these performances provide rich musical rewards as does the transcription of "Vocalise" played with great nobility by Zsol-Tihamér Visontay.

These are committed performances; Ashkenazy responds effectively to Rachmaninoff's difficult but idiomatic piano writing, and he and his colleagues seem to know that the only way to pull off this music is to play it "all-in." Violinist Zsolt-Tihamer Visontay and cellist Mats Lidström play admirably . . .