I must confess, Saint-Saëns’ Second Piano Trio came as a total revelation to me. The five-movement work is substantial, and the outer movements especially show him in a dramatically different light. The stern first movement features a main theme that is both grand and intense. The Sitkovestsky’s pass the long serpentine melodies among themselves brilliantly as the movement develops organically with the violinist and cellist imbuing their fleeting dialogues with urgency while preserving the airy quality. Had I not known what I was listening to, it would have taken me a while to guess it was Saint-Saëns: no Gallic chic here! 

Sitkovetsky Trio

The middle three movements are all in their different ways, more like intermezzi. The second, Allegretto , is in predominantly 5/4 time, like the famous second movement waltz in Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique (which, incidentally, appeared one year after this work). That gives it a skipping quality rather than a lop-sided waltz but the movement still develops an agitated passage before it subsides into what has been accurately...