The Florestan Trio
Despite being the composer of innumerable works in all genres from grand opera to piano miniature, Saint-Saëns today is known largely for his third symphony (the ‘Organ’ Symphony), the piano concertos (award-winningly recorded by Stephen Hough on Hyperion) and the omnipresent Carnival of the animals (a work its composer did his best to suppress). The two piano trios, composed in 1863 and 1892, stand at the apogee of his neglected chamber music output, and their place in a genre the composer held dear is reflected in their quality.
Piano Trio No 1 was Saint-Saëns’s first truly successful work. Inspired by the terrain and folk music of the French Pyrenees, it has a breezy simplicity, its open lyricism—naïveté even—offering so much more than 1860s opera-mad France could ever have realized. The second trio is a more serious and subtle work; the intervening decades had seen Saint-Saëns retreat from a world in which he felt increasing marginalized. From self-imposed exile in Algeria he sent this work to the world as a postcard firmly reiterating his belief in the values of traditional form and melody.
Performances by The Florestan Trio are every bit as committed and polished as we have come to expect from their many previous acclaimed recordings.