The Strad Issue: January 2017
Description: Likeable trios for violins and piano make for a family affair
Musicians: Koch Trio
Composer: Martinu¯, Milhaud, Moszkowski
Catalogue number: ETCETERA KTC 1543

Three chamber works for the unusual combination of two violins and piano come courtesy of a family trio: father and daughter Philippe and Laurence on the two violins, with son/brother Jean-Philippe on piano.

Without tessitura or tone to differentiate them, the two violins are helpfully separated with convincing clarity across left and right channels in the disc’s warm, truthful recording. It’s a help in the sparkling Moszkowski Suite, whose intertwining violin lines seem designed to deceive the ear – and which father and daughter pull off with beautifully blended, balanced tones throughout, and well-matched articulations and attacks in the fiery finale. Pianist Jean-Philippe does tend to dominate the trio, however: he’s not just placed quite forward in the recording mix but also often lets rip with assertive playing that leaves his father and sister somewhat in the shade.

There’s more opportunity for the trio’s sense of fantasy to come through in the shimmering colours of the charming Milhaud Sonata, although the threesome could indulge its rhythms with a little more rubato. The players match the Martinu¯ Sonatine’s Stravinskian cleanness with admirably crisp, athletic playing, sophisticated in its opening movement and enjoyably energetic and spiky in its finale. There’s not the sense that these are great undiscovered masterpieces; instead they are persuasive and attractive works, given convincing, idiomatic performances.

David Kettle