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"Rachmaninov's only substantial piano trio remains a relative rarity in the catalogue. It's not hard to see why, for this is more of an Ugly Sister than a Cinderella. True, there are many passages of beauty and poignancy, but overall it's an oddly structured piece, with two substantial movements followed by an almost throwaway finale.
This new reading comes closer than most to concealing the work's flaws. The opening movement is wonderfully realised, a single sweep of grief mingled with love and regret (it was written on the death of Tchaikovsky). And the second couldn't be more musically played. It's a highly piano-centric work, but you never feel that Berezovsky is hogging the limelight, superbly matched as he is by his compatriots. By contrast, the finale, despite its portentous, Brahmsian opening, is over all too soon, as if Rachmaninov simply ran out of steam. It's tantalising that Rachmaninov left no recording of his own. But in the case of Shostakovich's Second Trio, we've had the composer at the keyboard on two occasions (various labels). Comparison is salutary: most modern interpretations seem sluggish by comparison (though admittedly Shostakovich plays fast and loose with his own tempo indications), particularly in the finale. Berezovsky, Makhtin and Kniazev are even more satisfying than the very good performance from the Wanderer Trio; their take on the following Passacaglia ideally balances profundity with unaffectedness. Their restraint is much more potent than the tacky exaggerations of Argerich, Kremer and Maisky, in a live performance from 1998. Only a couple of niggles: the string players apparently ignore the con sordino instruction in the finale, and at one point in the Passacaglia there's a very prominent exhalation from one of them – bothersome enough to make one wonder why it was left in. The recording is warm and convincingly balanced and complements the superb performances."

Rachmaninov: Trio élégiaque & Shostakovich: Piano Trio No. 2
Dmitri Makhtin (violin), Boris Berezovsky (piano) & Alexander Kniazev (cello)

Rachmaninov: Trio élégiaque No. 2 in D minor, Op. 9
Shostakovich: Piano Trio No. 2 in E minor, Op. 67


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