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Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
Piano Trio No. 2 in G minor, Op. 26/B56 (1876) [33’19].
Anton ARENSKY (1861-1906)

Piano Trio in D minor, Op.32 (1894) [28’19].
The Yuval Trio (Jonathan Zak, piano; Uri Pianka, violin; Simca Heled, cello).
Rec. 1986. DDD
RELIEF CR900-012 [57’28]


This is a lovely coupling. Both works on the disc represent lyric outpourings by these composers; both are successful as musical entities.

The recording dates from 1986, but no further information is given. It is generally acceptable, though, if not the most intimate of its kind, and has a tendency towards roughness at levels of forte and above. The players clearly love this type of music and all three are clearly very accomplished musicians.

The compositionally assured first movement of the Dvořák could perhaps blossom out more. This said, there remains a flowing inevitability to the argument that keeps the interest. The slow movement (Largo) is here a very interior statement, yet there is a careless edit at 1’06 that severely interrupts the musical line. The pianist, Jonathan Zak, excels in the rhythmic pointing of the Scherzo, which exudes a fair amount of energy. A pity that the annunciatory chords of the finale serve to highlight the edgy recording - in this way Dvořák’s ebullient invention is dulled around the edges.

Anton Arensky was a pupil of Rimsky-Korsakov at the St Petersburg Conservatory, later himself teaching at the Moscow Conservatory from 1882-95. His Piano Trio in D minor of 1894 is one of his best-loved works and indeed its eminently civilised demeanour complements the Dvořák offering here perfectly. Some sections even smack of Dvořák in their Slavic intensity, but the work is generally characterised by an easy lyric charm that is more often than not on the surface. A delightful Scherzo (with affecting cascading figures on the piano) leads to a truly lovely Adagio, marked ‘Elegia’. Achingly nostalgic, this in turn prepares the way for a more resolute ‘Allegro non troppo’ which, although containing a lower level of inspiration, does us the favour of not outstaying its welcome. Simca Heled’s cello sings gloriously at various points here.

The Trio adds a further layer of appreciation to this composer. The Naxos recording of the Suites would complement it well for the curious who do not wish to overspend (http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2003/Nov03/Arensky_suites.htm).

Fascinating listening, then. The Dvořák will certainly not displace any library recordings, but the Arensky may make for a happy discovery.

Colin Clarke


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