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BENJAMIN GODARD - Complete Piano Trios - Berceuse - Trio Parnassus - 0760623161525 - MDG 3031615

The French composer Benjamin Godard (1849-1895) wrote many large scale works including 3 symphonies, 8 operas, various concertos plus a wide variety of chamber music. Unfortunately recordings of most of these pieces are hard to come by these days. Most of what is readily available are his small scale salon pieces that were often played in the salons of Paris for the upper-bourgeois social clubs of the day. But overall it seems that he was admired mostly for his more serious compositions.

These Piano Trios for example display a talent for cohesive writing blending drama, a tight and solid structure, and sweeping romanticism to form a compelling musical story. The lines are always solid and well defined, so much so that even when sudden mood swings occur, the direction of the main musical discourse does not change. The quality of the music drives the movements forward as the three instruments merge into one to propel the main ideas to fruition. A perfect balance of refinement and emotional depth combine to make these chamber works technically advanced for their day.

The Trio Parnassus has been active now for almost 30 years and it shows. They play as if they were one organic entity and seem to react instantly and accordingly to each other's actions. Not only have they recorded the great Piano Trios of Beethoven and Mozart, but they also devote much energy at seeking out and recording obscure or neglected works in the genre by Vasks, Turina and Reger, to name but a few. This recording is a great example of just that.

The chamber music of Benjamin Godard is excellent and more rewarding than similar works by better known composers. It carries within itself the trademarks of the 19th century and demonstrates the pinnacle of the genre typical of the times.

Jean-Yves Duperron