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Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Piano Trio in B flat major Op 97 Archduke
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)

Piano Trio No 3 in C minor Op 101 (1886)
Trio di Milano (Cesare Ferraresi, violin, Rocco Filippini, cello, Bruno Canino, piano)
Recorded RSI Auditorium, Lugano 1971 (Beethoven) and 1978 (Brahms)
AURA 178-2


The Trio di Milano was founded in 1968 by violinist Cesare Ferraresi, cellist Rocco Filippini and pianist Bruno Canino. Ferraresi was the elder statesman, born in 1919 and scion of a famous musical family, his brother Aldo being one of Italy’s leading violinists and around whom something of a mini-cult has now developed. Canino was born in 1936 and has an international career and Filippini has made a number of admired discs whilst Ferraresi died too young in 1981, his place being taken in the trio by the leader of I Musici, the Rumanian born Mariana Sirbu. The Trio di Milano took their place immediately in the firmament of existing Italian trios – competition existed in the shape of the trios of Trieste and Bologna – but they have remained durable and flexible exponents of the repertoire.

Cesare Ferraresi was a one-time leader of the RAI Orchestra as well as a teacher and chamber player of note; he and his brother were apparently good tango players as well, a skill Cesare exploited publicly in his cash-starved days. The Trio di Milano here essay two staples of the trio literature in performances dating from 1971 and 1978. Their Archduke is not unconscionably slow, but it is still relaxed in the modern manner – a post-Casals performance as it were. There is a deal of neat and unaffected phrasing from all three players – indeed unaffected is the adjective I would most apply to their playing in general – and in the first movement they follow the dynamic curve and cantilever of the music with skill and sensitivity. No over emoting hinders the passagework; the two string players are clean limbed and even of scale and Canino a supportive and indeed active ingredient in the ensemble, prompting and often leading through rich voicings. They bring to the slow movement an unostentatious affection but are also alive to the faster section’s opportunities for sharp articulation; some quick détaché bowing animates the line here. Occasionally Ferraresi comes under a little tonal pressure and the recording, which is not opulent, imparts a degree of shrillness to his tone. In the finale some of the string entry points sound a little tentative and there’s a jerky, not entirely convincing air to the proceedings, which rather disappoints. In the Brahms they are more comprehensively successful; strong but not oversized, with a good tonal confluence and a sense of appropriate dynamics they are sound guides to the trio. A few minor intonational slips in the whizzing Presto are of very little account and this is well scaled and musicianly playing all round.

The notes by Piero Rattalino are affectionate about Ferraresi, whom he knew and with whom he worked, and if this pitches the CD as rather more his memorial than the trio’s that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Cesare Ferraresi was a good musician and his trio served music honestly and well.

Jonathan Woolf

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