If you think that Brahms's chamber music idiom has legs, then the Trio No. 1 by Arthur Foote is for you. It has the stateliness and some of the drama of Brahms, though ultimately it emerges a more smiling and sunny creation than the German master ever seems to create in the key of C minor. The scherzo, for example, is a light-footed piece that bespeaks American rather than Germanic roots, though Foote was schooled after the best German models by America's first important symphonist, John Knowles Paine.
The Trio No. 2, likewise, is an entertaining amalgam of Germanic and American music making. The bumptious melody of the first movement, with its dotted rhythms, is clearly an American invention, but the sweeping romanticism of the whole also recalls the young Richard Strauss of the chamber music phase, as does the restless first melody of the finale. But whatever its provenance, what a lovely melody the second one, introduced by the piano, is! The coda memorably recalls the dotted rhythms of the first movement. This is a more assured and confident work than the First Trio and one that should be in the repertory of just about every American piano trio.
The melody and ballade are nice works, too, if much less meaty.
The three players involved do this ravishing music proud, and be assured that the sound here is all one could hope for: intimate yet open and airy, with great truthfulness. Certainly this CD is one of finest, if not the finest, chamber music entries in Naxos' American Classics series.