Dvořák Piano Trios

0 of 5 stars

Trio in B flat, Op.21
Trio in F minor, Op.65

Vienna Piano Trio
[Wolfgang Redik (violin), Matthias Gredler (cello) & Stefan Mendl (piano)]

Recorded December 2003, Fürstliche Reitbahn Bad Arolsen

Reviewed by: Douglas Cooksey

Reviewed: August 2004
Duration: 69 minutes

This is special, the first instalment of Dvořák’s Piano Trios from the excellent Vienna Piano Trio. The CD contains two relatively little-known works. The B flat Trio dates from 1875 and is roughly contemporaneous with the String Serenade and Fifth Symphony, whilst Op.65 is altogether darker and in the vein of Seventh Symphony.

Poor Dvořák. He wrote a mass of music in many genres, much of it quite wonderful, and here we are a century and more later remembering him by just a handful of (equally wonderful) works. The loss is ours.

The very start of the Op.21 Trio is a moment of magical inspiration, which leads into a large-scale Allegro that contains an unforgettably lilting second subject that recurs throughout the movement; this is followed by a grave and melancholy Adagio, a delightful polka-like scherzo and a lively finale that is full of light and shade.

The F minor Trio is a more dramatic work, one that gave Dvořák a great deal of trouble (he revised it extensively, which suggests it meant much to him). It is to the Vienna Trio’s musicians’ great credit that in the uncharacteristically chromatic music of the outer movements they tease out moments of repose in order to avoid hectoring. The Allegretto grazioso second movement has a touch of Smetana about it – grazioso it may be marked but this is serious and introspective music. The spacious Adagio is particularly moving, music of real depth and passion, especially when for a few brief moments mid-movement the clouds lift and the sun pierces the surrounding gloom.

The Vienna Trio uses a Steinway of 1901. The recorded sound, in a thoroughly sympathetic acoustic, has just enough air around the instruments. It is rare indeed to hear the cello so present in a trio recording or the piano tone so well caught. This is a quality production in every sense and a CD that I have returned to with ever-increasing pleasure.

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