MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2024
60,000 reviews
... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing



CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS

Piano Trio no.1 in D minor Op.49 (1839) [28:39]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Piano Trio no.2 in E flat major D.929 (1827) [45:06]
The Smetana Trio
Recorded at the Bohemia Music Studio, Prague 28-30 May and 17-22 November 2009 Stereo DDD

Experience Classicsonline

Ensemble is the key to the Smetana Trio’s art: the balance between the players, the finely graded hierarchies of contrapuntal prominence, and perhaps most importantly of all, the ability of pianist Jitka Čechová to blend in with the sustained tone of her colleagues. The result is a finely integrated whole. More famous names, especially violinists like Itzhak Perlman or Janine Jansen, take greater liberties with their solos in the Mendelssohn, treating their companions as accompanists, but not here. It is to the credit of both works that they fair well in both kinds of interpretation.

The coupling is fascinating as it highlights a number of thematic links between the works: did Mendelssohn know the Schubert? Were all German and Austrian composers using these thematic devices at the time? Or perhaps the similarity in the performance style is what draws the two works together. Drawing a dividing line between Schubert the Classical master and Mendelssohn the Romantic upstart is an almost impossible task, although Schubert’s obsessive thematic structuring goes some way towards locating his music in the ‘long 18th century’.

For all that though, the Smetana Trio treat him as a Romantic, just as much as they do Mendelssohn. Both composers are given real heart-on-sleeve treatment, although the overt expression tends to be through wide ranging dynamics rather than through excessive rubato. The warm recorded sound helps to create this inviting Romantic atmosphere, and the piano in particular is given a warm aural profile. Remarkably, this does not adversely affect the clarity of the piano sound. On the contrary, the warmth of the lower register really articulates the bass lines, and creates a rounded sound for the piano left hand that is nevertheless distinct from the sound of the cello.

Given the artistic unity of this small ensemble, it seems uncharitable to pick it apart in terms of individual performers. Even so, Jan Páleníček, the cellist of the group deserves a special mention. Each of his solos is something really special, and his ability to blend into the tutti textures without compromising the unique identity of his tone is rare indeed. Take, for example, the Andante con moto second movement of the Schubert. His solo at the beginning is perfectly judged, digging into the lower register to find a little more resonance when required and subtly colouring everything with an only just perceptible vibrato. Those colours continue into the following tuttis, and function just as well as bass lines and counterpoints.

I’m less impressed with the performance of violinist Jana Vonášková-Nováková. She has a narrower tone, which is all right for many of the solos, but can be a little grating in the top register in louder tuttis. In some of these, in the Finale of the Mendelssohn, for example, I found myself contemplating how the performance would be improved by the involvement of a really big name violinist.

The answer is that they would probably have a sweeter, rounder tone at the top and have to strain less to carry the line over the ensemble, small as it is. But the price would be a reduction in the coherency of the sound, a less equitable interaction between the players. That would be a real shame, because these piano trios are almost archetypal chamber music, and the greatest strength of this recording is that they are presented as exactly that. They are passionate and expressive readings, but intimacy and tight ensemble are the key features, just as they should be.

Gavin Dixon



Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Past and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.