Having just posted the Ravel Trio in an exemplary performance by Menuhin, Kenter, and Cassado, the logical next step was to post what many consider the other of the two great trios of the twentieth century. Those who so rate the Shostakovich and Ravel will get no argument from me, just a plea not to forget the Ives when listing the rest of the great works in this genre.
This recording with the composer at piano, from 1946, may suffer noticeable sonic deficits from the recording technology of the era, and, undoubtedly, from my attempts to digitize an LP of it with lots of wear and scratches. One would be hard pressed to challenge its musical authority, though, given the players involved.
In contrast to the somber and sardonic musings of Shostakovich, the Prokofiev quartet is notably uncomplicated. It is played here convincingly by the sometimes underrated Fine Arts Quartet. It has been suggested to me that its early association with a broadcast company (ABC) may account for the Fine Arts being rated less highly than it merits. With the virtually beatified Toscanini leading the NBC Orchestra, though, it seems unlikely that a broadcast association would cause significant difficulty to a reputation. In any event, they were never anything less than first rate.
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