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Bedřich SMETANA (1824-1884)
Piano Trio in G minor (1855) [28:05]
Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)

Piano Trio No. 4 in E minor "Dumky" (1891) [30:40]
Ad Trio Prague
rec. Lichtenstein Palace, Prague, 26-28 October 2007
NOVERA UP 0105-2 131 [58:53]

Experience Classicsonline

Visitors to Prague might be quite surprised to notice how much more the people of the Czech Republic appear to revere their nationalist composer, Smetana, more than their internationally better-known composer, Dvořák. Smetana has a museum in a prominent riverside location, while Dvořák’s museum is tucked away in a not very imposing street.

Very few chamber works by Smetana have survived: two string quartets (one of them, the well-known one in E minor "From My Life"), two duos for violin and piano and this Trio in G minor, op. 15. It is said that he composed his chamber works in times of exceptional emotional turmoil. This Trio was composed at the time when Smetana’s family suffered three deaths: his two-year-old daughter, Gabriela, then, three months later, he lost his four-and-a-half-year-old Bedřěška and then little Kateřinka died at only seven and a half months. The Trio was meant as an elegy for the musically gifted Bedřěška. The tragedy is manifest in the music. The powerful opening movement is deeply affecting especially the second theme given to the cello. It was Bedřěška’s favourite tune. Balancing the pathos is sharply defiant material as though the composer was shaking a furious fist at the fates. The second forlorn movement is pained with brief brighter interludes. The finale, at first, races along, full of agitation before halting piano chords introduce a poignancy, melody that, in the hands of the Ad Trio Prague, wrenches at the heart. Throughout, these players deliver an edgy, emotionally-charged performance, so sympathetic to the composer’s grief.

Dvořák’s Dumky Trio is, in comparison, lighter and much sunnier, and the Ad Trio Prague rejoice in its vivacity. Unusually, the work is conceived in six movements or six Dumkas as the writer of the album’s notes suggests. They are similar to Dvořák’s Slavonic Dances but differ in form. All are beautifully melodic with tunes that imprint themselves on the memory; the emotion and warmth mostly given to the cello. Introspection or wistful longing is contrasted with lively, hedonistic dance material.

An intelligent pairing and most persuasive performances.
Ian Lace





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