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Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
Piano Trio No. 3 in F minor, Op. 96/B130 (1882) [42’28].
Josef SUK (1874-1935)

Elegie (Under the impression of Zeyer’s Vyšehrad) [5’14].
Bohuslav MARTINŮ (1890-1959)

Piano Trio No. 3 in C, ‘Grand Trio’ [19’45].
Czech Trio (Milan Langer, piano; Dana Vlachová, violin; Miroslav Petráš, cello).
Rec. Lichtenstein Palace, Prague, on July 28th-31st, 2004. DDD
ARCODIVA UP0072-2 131 [62’22]

 

Marvellous programming here. The Czech Trio plays three native works with the utmost dedication in a spacious, supporting recording.

The Dvořák is a magnificent piece, and the Czech Trio serve it splendidly. There is a nice sense of Romantic sweep to the first movement. The piano sound is well-rounded, the violin sweet of tone. Most importantly the rhythmic impulse is there, so vital to successful Dvořák performance. It prevents interpretative ‘spreading’ or sprawling. Miroslav Patráš’s cello sings well, although it is caught just a little edgily. If the whole could be more ecstatic at times, the scherzo-like Allegretto grazioso works so well because there is a slight weight underpinning it that is entirely appropriate to the music. Long violin lines give off the requisite sense of yearning. But the highlight of this reading is the Poco adagio, a gorgeous unfolding, unhurried yet not indulgent. A shame, then, that the ‘con brio’ marking of the Finale is not really adhered to. The more reflective passages work well, but could benefit from further highlighting by even more immersion into Dvořák’s more spirited side elsewhere in the movement.

The Suk was inspired by Julius Zeyer’s epic poem ‘Vyšehrad’. This is a short, gentle piece that acts well as a separator between the two larger works, yet is in itself marvellously crafted. It rises to a small climax, nothing to ruffle its restful mood.

In terms of harmonic vocabulary, it is the Martinů that offers the greatest spice of the disc. Committed and impassioned playing from all three instrumentalists ensures an excellent case is made for Martinů’s sometimes oblique mode of expression. Try the somewhat mechanistic passages around 5’40, for example.

The Andante’s lines are almost but not quite meandering, a fine line that Martinů treads with consummate mastery. The finale is lovely, almost jubilant with an aching contrasting section.

A lovely disc at bargain price. For comparative purposes, the Florestan Trio’s disc of Dvořák’s third and fourth Trios on Chandos (CHAN66895) exhibits all of that group’s well-known musicality. For an excellent conspectus of Suk’s chamber music, try the Supraphon three-disc set 11 1874-2.

Colin Clarke

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