Taneyev & Rimsky-Korsakov: Piano Trios

Piano Trio in D major Op 22 by Sergei Taneyev
2.Allegro molto – Tema con variazioni – Tempo del commincio
3.Andante espressivo
4.Allegro con brio

Piano Trio in C minor by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
4.Adagio – Allegro assai

Rimsky-Korsakov described Taneyev’s best music as possessing ‘a wealth of beauty and expressiveness’, a verdict with which no one is likely to disagree after hearing the piano trio recorded here. Rimsky was (unjustly) disparaging towards his own, unfinished, trio, which emerges as a brooding, substantial work well worthy of revival.


Sergei Taneyev (1856-1915) worked alongside Tchaikovsky, acting as a critical friend to the composer, providing (sometimes unsolicited) feedback about the creative nature of his colleague's writing. Taneyev's style,, although firmly rooted in the Russian tradition, was more restrained than his compatriots, as the Piano Trio in D, Ip.22 (1907) indicates. Both the first and second movements are based on an imaginative development of two separate themes. Taneyev mines contrapuntal techniques here; the resulting music is highly listenable but rather academic. The Leonore Piano Trio—Benjamin Nabarro (violin); Gemma Rosefield (cello) and Tim Horton (piano)—are fine interpreters; Nabarro and Rosefield's duet in the penultimate movement is noteworthy.

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908) could also be a stern ciritic, and he remained unsatisfied with his own piano trio. It was eventually finished by his son-in-law, Maximilian Steinberg (1883-1946)—with spectacular results. The Leonore Piano Trio evoke the rainbow colours and myriad shapes, moving quickly from dark and expansive (first movement) to slithers of iridescence (second movement). Horto brings an uneasy sense of trpidation to the third movement, foreshadowing the bittersweet piano solo in the finale. The balance of instruments is excellent throughout.