- Piano Trio No. 1 in F major, Op. 18
- Piano Trio No. 2 in E minor, Op. 92
Written some 30 years apart, the "First" and "Second" piano trios of Camille Saint-Saëns could hardly be more different. The "First Trio" is a model of jubilance, youthful optimism, and sheer joy. The quick, nimble Scherzo darts about with mischievous frivolity while even Andante (in A minor) is far from a brooding affair. The "Second Trio" is a much darker, solemn, ominous contribution. Saint-Saëns even breaks the mold of the traditional four-movement trio and adds an uncustomary fifth movement. Both trios place great demands on the technical abilities, ensemble cohesiveness, attention to detail, and sound quality of its performers. This Harmonia Mundi album features the Trio Wanderer, a venerable ensemble founded at the Paris Conservatoire that later went on to study with the likes of Pressler and Starker, later winning the prestigious Fischoff Competition. The trio's impressive resume is well-earned, and the performance of these two trios is exemplary. Even the most rapid, intricate passagework is executed pristinely, without the slightest appearance of effort. Balance within the trio is also ideal, allowing listeners to enjoy Saint-Saëns' fluid interplay. What's perhaps most important is the convincing and engaging way in which the Wanderers capture the highly contrasting character of the two trios. Listeners unfamiliar with these two less-commonly performed works could scarcely do better than this disc.