The full title "Trios Op. 13 pour Pianoforte avec accompagnement
e Basson" displayed on the CD booklet might suggest that the Paris-based,
though possibly Turin-born, Rasetti composed these trios for
some particular set of performers. After all, how frequently
does the bassoon so prominently feature in Classical chamber
music? But apparently the composer and his publisher were just
keeping all their bases covered: the original edition of Op.
13 offers the choice of flute or violin, and of bassoon or cello.
One would be tempted to call this a sort of eighteenth-century
Gebrauchsmusik, save that such a dismissal would belie
the distinctive character of each of these trios, not to mention
Rasetti's own individual compositional voice.
Thus, the F major Trio begins rather conventionally, with the piano's
melodic lines and Alberti basses dominating the texture, while
the other two instruments reinforce accents. But Rasetti uses
development and variation techniques to build a considerable
head of steam, transforming this Allegro molto into an
exhilarating romp for all three instruments. Similar techniques
carry the central Andantino beyond the squareness of
its opening bassoon theme. The finale, Allegro assai,
has a cheerful opera buffa bustle; there's a witty touch
when bassoon and piano are "stuck" on a stuttering
repeated note before bursting into the recapitulation.
The opening of the C major Trio feints at turbulent minor-key drama
before abruptly settling into a contented major mood, where
it stays. The Romanza offers another bassoon solo, this
one soulful; the flute, in response, lightens the atmosphere,
until the music breaks into a sort of Gypsy-dance motion. The
final Rondo, once more, offers a busy opera buffa
energy. The bassoon writing includes some rather quick runs
- did Beethoven know this trio when he composed his Fourth Symphony?
The B flat Trio, in its turn, differs markedly from its predecessors
in style and construction. The piano has the first paragraph
to itself, and later in the movement punctuates the structure
with cadenza-like flourishes. Lilting, gracefully pointed woodwind
phrases throw the predominant broad, flowing melodies in sharp
relief. Flute and piano begin the central Siciliana movement
in a gentle, rocking motion, with the piano supplying light
embellishments; soon, mysterious, creeping bassoon-and-piano
scales disturb the serenity. Here the finale, entitled Belle
Raymonde, is a theme and variations working all the standard
changes on its stately theme: downward bassoon scales, flute
triplets, rippling piano scales, even a fugato based
on the theme's gruppetto motif.
The exuberant playing of the Trio Amédée, founded in 2000, offers persuasive
advocacy. I was particularly impressed by pianist Jan Philip
Schulze's crisp fluency, even more in his delivery of the C
major's quick series of turns (track 4, 6:28)
than in his unfailingly pearly, precise passagework. At times,
Rasetti reinforces the two woodwinds with a full chord in the
piano - a tactic familiar to anyone who's reduced, say, a Broadway
show score for a six-piece pit band - and these players bring
off the intended illusion of a fuller wind complement. In fact,
it's hard to imagine the alternative string instruments in this
music - surely a tribute to the Amédée's musical intelligence
and quality of execution. The recording quality is excellent.
Stephen Francis Vasta