It is said that it was in watching ice-cream vendors dancing a fandango at Saint-Jean-de-Luz that Ravel picked up the first theme of his Trio in A, a theme which he believed to be Basque, but in fact wasn't. As Shostakovich noted whilst writing his second piano trio "the concept of popular spirit in art" must not be vulgarised or impoverished by being reduced to the mere task of using musical intonations from folk life. To be "popular in spirit" is to be intrinsically linked to the whole classical heritage of our people, right up to the highest achievements of…symphony and opera music". Ravel excelled in "intrinsically linking" world music into his classical heritage most startlingly in Chansons Madecasses. The Pantoum, Assez vif integrates a complex Malayan verse-form with music. Difficult enough to realise in poetry (it was used by Baudelaire in Les Fleurs du Mal), let alone music, the Pantoum requires two distinct ideas to make sense both in alternation and in combination. To these motifs Ravel adds a third lyrical, augmented theme, binding the middle of the Pantoum. The sudden outbreak of war came as a great shock to Ravel. Travelling to Paris, the fragile Ravel called in every favour in a futile attempt to fight - "I know I am working for the nation in writing music...but that's no consolation." Ravel accelerated his work, hoping to complete the trio before it seems the shadow of war colours the vast arch that forms the Passacaille, Tres large. Although not a true passagalia - the theme is never quite constantly repeated - Ravel, as in Bolero and La Valse, demonstrates his extraordinary ability to shape musical structure. As Pablo Casals would have it: "Rainbows…rainbows: nearly all music is like that. If one only makes this observation it is already a guide." The Final, Anime sees Ravel, the most gifted of orchestrators; stretch the sonorities of the piano trio, sonorities he was not always convinced that performers fully realised. If a political dimension is to be discerned in the second half of the trio, then here is a trumpeted praise of France's government of "Sacred Union." Dmitri Shostakovich's second trio, op.67 opens with three distinct voices speaking in counterpoint. The high "weeping child" harmonics of the cello recollect that Shostakovich worked on the trio shortly after the death of one of his closest friends, Ivan Sollertinsky. After consecutive Octobers seeing Germans at the gates of Moscow and Leningrad, Shostakovich writes that "nothing fills my heart with more pride than the thunder of guns firing salute over our capital. Never in history has the glory of the Russian armed forces been so high." Reflected in the relentless, angular Allegro con brio are the parallels Shostakovich draws between military victory and cultural strength - "Russian chamber music is blossoming today, producing works of classical importance. The remarkable development of the national music of the non-Russian Soviet republics is also widely known." Nevertheless, the rest of the trio is unremittingly bleak. Eight terrifying, deathly keyboard chords herald the Largo, above repetitions of which the violin and cello plaintively dialogue. As the trio was being written, Shostakovich could not have been unaware of the horrors of the Nazi atrocities left behind by the German retreat. The final Allegretto - Adagio draws on a Jewish dance of death, the Hasidic vehicle for redemption. Despair is built into the very fabric of the movement as a massive enlargement of the dance modulates downwards over the course of three hundred bars. Significantly, the dance motifs reoccur in the autobiographical eighth quartet overlaid with Shostakovich's initials - D (E) sCH. Shostakovich doesn't merely sympathize with the plight of the Jewish people; he identifies himself as a Jew. As life departs the dance all that is left is a recapitulation of the Largo's funeral chords, amplified by the weeping harmonics of the trio's opening. © 2012 Christopher Suckling Ben Wragg violinist, Laura Anstee cellist and Kan Tomita pianist met as teenagers at the Purcell school in 1995. Since then each of them followed their own paths and reunited as adults to form the Ibuki trio. Ben studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London and the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Laura also studied at the Royal Academy and Kan at the Royal College of Music London. They have all had unique experiences as performers and appeared in major concert halls around the world winning competitions and playing as soloists and chamber musicians. Ben Wragg notably won The Making Music Young Concert Artist Award, The Countess of Munster Award, The Jerwood Foundation Scholarship and The Concordia Foundation. He has been described as "technically and musically out of the ordinary" by the legendary Ruggiero Ricci. Kan won the Kendall Taylor Beethoven Prize, the Hopkinson Gold Medal and the Florestano Rossomandi International Piano Competition in Italy (2004). He has also been described by Japanese press thus "superb technical accomplishment and poetry …stunning". Laura has an interest in world music genres notably Jewish Klezmer, Gypsy, Balkan and Latin music which has greatly enriched her approach to music today. She was awarded the Herbert Walenn prize, Douglas Cameron prize, McEwen prize and Gwyneth George prize.

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