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Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Piano Trio in A minor, Op. 50 (1882) [43:43]
Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
Piano Trio No. 2 in G minor, Op. 26/B56 (1876) [29:20]
Trio (Jitka Čechová (piano);
Jana Vonášková-Nováková (violin);
Jan Páleníček (cello))
rec. Bohemia Music Studio, Prague, 24 April-2 May 2008
The musicality of performers from the Czech Republic
is almost a given. The country is rich in musical history
and boasts an impeccably strong tradition. Here are three
artists who clearly sit in the middle of this tradition.
Everything heard here is born of the utmost musical integrity
yet is informed with first-flush freshness.
Tchaikovsky Piano Trio is given a fluid, responsive performance
here. There is no doubting the sterling musicianship of
all three players. Unfortunately, pianist Jitka Čechová is
recorded slightly too far back in the sound space. We get
plenty of chances to admire the gorgeous interplay of violin
and cello in the opening “Pezzo elegiaco” but Čechová remains
firmly in the background which lessens tension at many
junctures. Čechová is clearly a major talent, as her
discs of Smetana on Supraphon have so conclusively demonstrated.
The 25-minute Variations begin in the most intimate of
fashions – we could so easily be in someone’s home. Slowly,
the music climbs out of its shell into grander emotions.
The level of structural understanding evidenced by the
present players is remarkable. Not for them a mere ‘music-box’ variation,
around five minutes in – the passage has real structural
point. Yet each variation is exquisitely coloured. The
Waltz is surely the perfect example of this, the essence
of Tchaikovsky, while the fugue is charged with a dynamic
excitement that is generated by the exuberant interplay
of line. Čechová is massively characterful in the
mazurka variation. The movement here emerges in these players’ hands
as a magnificent, many-sided jewel. The darkness of the
final moments is palpable, an emotional outpouring bordered
in shades of black. The very close hangs in the air, poignantly.
Supraphon leave a good gap between the two pieces.
certainly happy to have this account sit next to the Argerich/Kremer/Maisky
DG version: DG 459 326-2, coupled with the Shostakovich
E minor Trio.
coupling takes the Smetana Trio back to home turf - to
Dvořák. And completely at home they sound in Dvořák’s
free-flowing melodic invention. The twelve-minute first
movement is performed with a sort of effortless ease which
nevertheless seeks to honour the G minor unsettled currents.
It is a balancing act that is all the more impressive for
the Smetana Trio’s seemingly trouble-free execution. This
group is evidently a well established unit from the way
motifs are passed, seamlessly, from one instrument to another.
Magnificent tenderness informs the Largo. The Presto Scherzo
requires that all players are on their toes. It would be
difficult to imagine a finer, fresher, more youthful account
than this, while the finale explores darker corners, juxtaposing
them with sparkling passages of the most brilliant daylight.
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