Gramophone

This pair of discs on the Divine Art label brings together four consistently attractive works that defy the fashion of their times in adopting a firmly tonal idiom and conventional musical structures.

William Hurlstone was a short-lived composer of great promise who died in 1906 when barely 30. His Piano Trio is immaculately constructed, using clearly identifiable if not terribly memorable themes, with a warmly lyrical slow movement leading to a witty scherzo marked by crisp cross-rhythms, and rounded off with a chattering finale. Miriam Hyde (1913-2005), born in Australia but working for many years in England, wrote her Fantasy Trio early in her career in London, no doubt influenced by the concept laid down for the Cobbett Prize. It is an attractive, varied work, nine minutes long with not a wasted note.

The little-known Max d’Ollone (1879-1959) was a French composer of noble birth who studied with Massenet and who, for a brief period (1940-44) during the Nazi occupation, was director of the Opéra-Comique in Paris. The first movement of his Piano Trio brings luxuriant writing, very well argued, leading to a mysterious slow movement and a witty scherzo with stuttering repeated notes.

Last on the second disc comes Dag Wirén’s Piano Trio No. 1 in four compact movements. This is the most light-hearted of the four works offered, largely because of the crisp brevity of the ideas of this Swedish composer (1905-86), with a jaunty first movement leading to an Adagio with an easy, flowing main theme moving by step. The scherzo brings delicate piano-writing, brilliantly executed by the pianist, Kenji Fujimura, with a slow central Trio section, leading finally to a jolly, dance-like finale in a sort of hornpipe rhythm.

ltogether four welcome works, beautifully recorded in well-balanced sound, with consistently affectionate performances.

—Edward Greenfield