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Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
Complete Piano Trios Vol. 2
Trio No. 2 for piano, violin and cello, in G minor, op.26, B.56
Trio No. 4 for piano, violin and cello, in E minor, op.90 ‘Dumky’ B.166
Vienna Piano Trio
Recorded: December 18-20, 2003 Furstliche Reitbahn Bad Arolsen DDD

The Vienna Piano Trio have been described as, "one of the world's leading ensembles of violin, cello and piano" (Washington Post), and "the Beaux Arts Trio of the 21st century" (The Baltimore Sun). There is no doubt that the Vienna Piano Trio are building a most successful reputation for themselves and this fine release of Dvořák’s Second and Fourth Piano Trios from independent German label MDG will only add to their status.

From 1876 the four movement Trio No. 2 for piano, violin and cello, in G minor, op.26 belongs to a period when the composer was consolidating his personal style. The score shows his design for formal clarity and motivic concentration. The Vienna Piano Trio are most successful in displaying the score’s heightened expression and darker hues. The elegiac and meditative second movement Largo is particularly thoughtfully played.

The Trio No. 4 for piano, violin and cello, in E minor, Dumky op.90 is one of Dvořák’s best known and most popular chamber compositions. Composed in 1891 in six movements this nationalistically flavoured work sees Dvořák infusing the score with the ‘Dumka’ which is a type of traditional folk-song. The first three movements are played without interruption. This presents no problems for the Vienna Piano Trio who take these considerable demands and the required concentration in their stride. The trio is rich in themes and colourful scoring. Notable is the varied treatment of ideas melancholy, happy and dance-like. The ‘Dumky’ Piano Trio No. 4 op.90 is expertly performed with subtle mood painting. I particularly enjoyed the ensemble’s superb playing in the difficult final movement Lento Maesto applying just the right tempos with excellent expression.

The new version of the Piano Trio No. 2, is extremely well performed and is now my first choice of the available recordings. In the Dumky Trio the glittering Ax, Kim and Ma on CBS Masterworks MK 44527 continue to hold pride of place in the catalogue for sheer refinement and heightened expression. The coupling with the Piano Trio No. 3, op.65 is a special bonus.

A fine Dvořák release which will only serve to enhance the reputation of the excellent Vienna Piano Trio.

Michael Cookson

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