David Matthews: Piano Trios – No 1, Op 34 (1983); No 2, Op 61 (1993); No 3, Op 97 (2005); Journeying Songs for solo cello, Op 95

Reviewed on Mon 14 Aug, 2017

The two-movement Third Trio strikes me as an especially lucid, wonderfully serene creation, the first movement's thematic material slyly inverted in the lengthier succeeding Andante.

Music of genuine substance, consummate craftsmanship and communicative power from the pen of David Matthews (who turns 75 next March). Each of his three piano trios (dating from 1983, 1994 and 2005 respectively) contains a wealth of nourishing invention, be it the wittily affectionate portrait of Hans Keller that comprises the scherzo of No 1 (a commission for the Trio Zingara instigated by the distinguished Austrian émigré), or the heartbreaking loveliness of the barcarolle-like slow movement from No 2 (an infinitely touching memorial to Matthews's partner, the novelist Maggie Hemingway, who passed away in May 1993). The two-movement Third Trio strikes me as an especially lucid, wonderfully serene creation, the first movement's thematic material slyly inverted in the lengthier succeeding Andante. The 2008 triptych for solo cello, Journeying Songs, likewise finds rigour and lyricism in disarming accord. Towards the end of No 3 ('Gemma's Song') listen out for the theme to which Matthews returned for his masterly, single-movement Seventh Symphony completed the following year. In the booklet the composer hails the performances as 'definitive' – and it's hard to disagree with his verdict. Sound and balance, too, are beyond reproach. Do investigate!
–Andrew Achenbach