The Strad Issue: January 2009
Musicians: Icicle Creek Piano Trio
Composer: Ravel, Schubert

Formed by prizewinning soloists from the US, Russia and the UK, this technically accomplished trio is resident at the Icicle Creek Music Center in Leavenworth, Washington, and much of its career is built in North America.

For their disc debut, the players have bravely chosen works already over-subscribed in the present catalogue. They catch all the subtle shimmering shades of the Ravel Trio, but this is essentially a young, virile and robust view of the score. I particularly enjoy the piano’s spiky introduction to a second movement that is illuminated by brilliant flashes of light. By contrast the Passacaille has that nice languid feeling of a mid-day reverie eased forward on gentle movement. I expected a greater degree of outgoing virtuosity in the finale, but it is still elegant and sprightly, only lacking elemental power in the closing passages.

Their approach to the Schubert is literal and free of those mannerisms that have become encrusted on to the work over the years. Tempos are true to the essence of the music, with a true walking gait to the second movement forming the backdrop to a beautifully played cello solo. The scherzando is pleasing, but again the finale is a little underpowered. The characterful account from the Florestan Trio (Hyperion), remains my top choice, but if this coupling appeals, it won’t fail to please. The recording quality is excellently balanced and the overall sound is most agreeable.