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Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)
Piano Trio in D minor Op. 49
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)

Piano Trio in A minor Op. 50
Czech Trio (Dana Vlachová (violin) Miroslav Petráš (cello) Milan Langer (piano))
Recorded in St Vavřinec Church, Prague, July 2003

ARCO DIVA UP 0064-2 131 [76.37]

 

Warmly recorded this disc manages to avoid the pitfalls of some church acoustics. The Czech Trio – an august name – now comprises Dana Vlachová (violin) – not to be confused with Jana Vlachová of the (new) Vlach Quartet - Miroslav Petráš (cello) and Milan Langer (piano), three distinguished players and all teachers at the Prague Conservatoire. The programme is conventional, Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky, and there are few idiosyncrasies or annoying quirks.

The Mendelssohn receives an attractive performance though somewhat slower than is the norm. I sense that the Czech Trio values strength and architectural solidity over incidental felicity and to this extent the performance doesn’t altogether take wing. Some of the phrasing in the slow movement could be more affectionate, though the Scherzo is very fluent and incisive. In the Finale however the tempo is stern and the playing relatively unyielding.

I get the feeling that the Tchaikovsky Trio engaged them rather more. Compared to the live recording of the Oscar Shumsky-Charles Curtis-Earl Wild trio, made in 1979 at Carnegie Hall and just released by Ivory Classics, we can hear the Czech Trio’s more veiled introspection. They catch the lyrical nostalgia at the heart of the opening movement whilst also managing to maintain musical tension and their playing of the second variation of the second movement is most elegant. There were moments when I felt that shaper etching would have brought greater rewards, such as the Fugal Variation, No 8. The finale is cohesive and attractive; they lack the opulent tonal ensemble of some other trio pairings but turn in a musical performance.

Jonathan Woolf

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