The classics: August 7th

Debussy: Sonatas and Piano Trto. Te Koki Trio. Rattle CD

French composer Claude Debussy (1862-1918) entered the Paris Conservatoire at the age of 10 and early on wrote some  music considered to be eccentric; asked what rules he obeyed he replied: "My pleasure."

Later, he was impressed by Wagner and impressionist poetry, had a stormy personal life but composed vigorously.

The Te Koko Trio is Martin Riseley (violin), Inbal Megidda (cello) and Jian Liu (piano) — all staff members of the New Zealand School of Music, Victoria University, in Wellington. They show their talents in this debut disc with three works recorded by David Lisik in the NZSM.

The CD opens with the Violin Sonata written in 1917: Riseley impressing with a controlled and reflective performance of the last completed work before Debussy’s death. It is a restless and neo-classical work for both instruments, with many motifs that make it one of the most imaginative of all violin sonatas.

The Cello Sonata composed in 1915 allows Megidda’s talent to the fore, cello competing with vigour after the triumphant opening bars from the piano, then introducing the melancholy but lyrical theme that reminds listeners of Debussy’s life  during World War 1 and pain from his terminal illness.

The final four tracks contain the Piano Trio in G Major, an early work (1879) for piano, among Debussy’s first for that instrument. It contains the spirit of a happier age in Paris, although written while he was abroad. Dedicated to his former harmony teacher at the Conservatoire, this is charming salon music of the first order and allows all three instruments to have their joyful moments.

Verdict: Debussy delights from Wellington trio.

- Geoff Adams

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