The underlying element uniting these two chamber pieces, composed more than a century Apart, are their Russian origins and the piano trio format as compositional vehicle. Jurg Stenzl, in his notes, describes these two piano trios, the first composed in 1882 by Tchaikovsky and the second by Victor Kissine in 2009, as "the beginning and (for the moment) end of the history of Russian chamber music." Outside of some technical elements, that is all these trios have in common.
Tchaikovsky is best known for his lyrical ballet and symphonic music. He wrote very little chamber music outside of three string quartets, a sextet and the present piano trio. What Puccini was to the voice, Tchaikovsky was to the orchestra. His piano trio, conceived as a set of variations in memory of Nikolai Rubinstein, is a lyrically and harmonically rich extended composition that effects a large lushness despite the abbreviated instrumental format. Tchaikovsky's command of musical drama is in perfect evidence in Gidon Kremer's quicksilver violin playing. His Balkan partners, Lithuanian cellist Gidon Kremer / Giedre Dirvanauskaite / Khatia Buniatishvili and Georgian pianist Gidon Kremer / Giedre Dirvanauskaite / Khatia Buniatishvili, display their association with Kremer in their seamless support and interaction with the violinist, particularly in the extended "Pezzo elagiaco" opening movement of the trio. The trio remains fully integrated through the variations to the coda; sumptuous and plush, Kremer's is an excellent reading of Tchaikovsky in a small space.
Victor Kissine's Trio in A minor is another matter altogether. Moody and dark, "Zerkalo" ("The Mirror") is a drawn out and disjointed composition, with "musical thoughts" assembled on an almost movie soundtrack scale. Modern critical theory might term this post-modern or deconstructive. Furious flourishes by Kremer are met with the introverted ruminations of Dirvanauskaite and Buniatishvili. This is difficult music, composed in an exacting manner for an exacting mood. Kissine's piece offers a great comparison between late 19th Century and early 21st Century composing styles. Bring the melody back.
Track Listing: Kissine: Trio in a-minor, op. 50; Tchaikovsky: I. Pezzo elegiaco:
Moderato assai--Allegro giusto--In tempo molto sostenuto--Adagio
con duolo e ben sostenuto--Moderato assai--Allegro giusto--In tempo
molto sostenuto--Animato; II. Tema con Variazioni: Tema: Andante con
moto; Variazione I; Variazione II: Più mosso; Variazione III: Allegro
moderato; Variazione IV: L'istesso tempo; Variazione V: L'istesso tempo
Variazione VI: Tempo di Valse Variazione VII: Allegro moderato;
Variazione VIII: Fuga. Allegro moderato; Variazione IX: Andante flebile
ma non tanto; Variazione X: Tempo di Mazurka Variazione XI: Moderato;
Variazione Finale e Coda: Allegro risoluto e con fuoco--Andante con
moto--Lugubre. L'istesso tempo.