Radio 3’s ‘Building a Library’ recommends recordings of the Ravel Piano Trio

17th December 2022 | Florestan Trio, Reviews | 9 comments

BBC Radio 3’s ‘Record Review’ programme this morning contained a ‘Building a Library’ feature on the Ravel Trio. Reviewer Jeremy Sams, a well-known Francophile, compared the available recordings.

Mentioning the enormous technical difficulty of all three instrumental parts, he quoted Ravel as having said that he loved the fact that it was difficult because it meant that it ‘wouldn’t be murdered by amateurs’. True enough – now that I come to think of it, I have never heard it attempted by an amateur group. On the contrary, I have only heard good performances and recordings by very accomplished musicians.

Many fine recordings were discussed this morning, but I’m delighted to say that Jeremy’s eventual top choice was the Florestan Trio’s 1999 recording on the Hyperion label. ‘Emotion and precision – the essence of Ravel’, he said of our recording. ‘Expressive and emotional, but self-contained; wild and extravagant, but within the tempo’.

And allow me a moment of vanity: talking about the second movement, a whirling lightning-tempo waltz which ushers in a beautiful lyrical theme in the middle of the movement, Jeremy played an excerpt of the Florestan recording and commented, ‘The beauty is the way the piano tune is played by Susan Tomes … it couldn’t be done better.’

The Ravel Trio has long been one of my favourite pieces of chamber music, and our Hyperion CD is one of my favourites amongst the Florestan’s recordings, so Jeremy Sams’ choice was very gratifying.


  1. Alison


  2. Rob Stuart


    Excellent, I listened to the programme and wholeheartedly agree with selecting Florestan Trio for that piece. Your Hyperion recording has been one of my all-time favourites.

    • Susan Tomes

      Thank you Rob!

  3. Mary Cohen

    How lovely! I must go and listen to that CD again straight away!

  4. Piotr

    Coincidentally, I was listening to your version of the Ravel this morning – a great start to a Sunday. Well done! – I’ll look up the programme on BBC Sounds. Can I also say that I particularly love your Faure trio on the same CD

  5. Ian Fairlie

    Yes I heard Jeremy Sams on BBC R3 praise your piano playing of the Ravel piece.
    Well done! I shall order the album on line to listen to it again.
    Best wishes at xmas

  6. Carola Beecham

    Susan, I heard part of Jeremy Sams’ Building a Library, and it was when your recording of the Ravel was being played. I wholeheartedly endorse what Jeremy said about your playing.
    Happy Christmas,

  7. Eric

    Magnifique, et Joyeux Noël!

  8. James

    Coincidentally, I recently did an extended listening to that trio, motivated, in part, by your mention of the piece being, “very difficult”. I also loved the Florestan Trio’s rendition.
    What an extraordinary piece – and how strange that (unlike his string quartet, for example) it isn’t better known.
    You have mentioned its difficulty on numerous occasions, and I feel it must be really hard!
    Every time I read about Ravel someone says, ‘he wasn’t a very good pianist’. Yet, I wonder if that can be true, for how on earth did he write such earth-shatteringly beautiful music for the piano unless he had a complete understanding of its qualities?


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