Here we have a coupling of Dvořák's two finest piano trios
- which should automatically make it two of the finest Romantic
piano trios in the repertoire. The performances have a certain
"Czech" sound, although the members of the Rosamunde
Trio are international. This sound is vibrant, warm, and a bit
heavy-handed. In my opinion, both works would benefit from greater
"coolness", transparency and lightness of touch.
All this makes the Op.65 Trio even more Brahmsian than it actually
is - especially the first movement. This trio comes from the
time of the Violin Concerto, when Dvořák's music carried
Brahms’ impress. The players deftly navigate through the perfect
storm of the first movement, with one emotional climax following
another. And not just navigate: they are the creators of this
storm, whipping the sea. Blow, ye winds! Higher, ye waves! You
must decide whether you like it or not: some like it hot, some
like it cold. The troubles pictured by the composer definitely
become more "subjective" than "objective"
The scherzo is well played - but it is ... well, played. There’s
more magic to come in these pages, more tiptoeing lightness,
more surprises. However, the gorgeous Adagio gains a lot from
this approach, and I wouldn't want to change a jot there! It
is warm and mellow, with wide, Tchaikovskian singing lines.
The turmoil returns in the finale. The main theme seems a bit
rushed to me, but the lyrical second subject is played very
sensitively. The coda, with its hints of the future New World
Symphony, has a genuine brio. Indeed, the performance of
the coda is even better than in my favorite recording - which
I doubt someone can easily replace. No, it's not the Beaux Arts!
And I haven't heard the much-admired Suk Trio. It's the Harmonia
Mundi 2003 recording with Faust, Queyras and Melnikov. The violin
has such celestial purity, such weightlessness, such drive without
being driven; you ought to hear it. That's a performance that
can make you fall in love with the piece. That said, I must
admit that their first movement and the final coda are lacking
something, compared to the Rosamunde Trio.
The Dumky Trio Op.90 may not be as deep and expressive
as Op.65, but it surely is one of the most universally
loved chamber compositions. Dvořák lets his imagination
go free, and what we get is a wonderful sequence of fantasy
images, fast and slow, happy and sad, light and dark. I did
not hear Faust et al playing it, but there are plenty
of excellent recordings around. The new one from the Rosamunde
probably does not belong among the group of leaders, but it
offers an interesting alternative view, and can be recommended
if you would like to diversify your Dumkys.
The slow episodes have the breadth and the breathing - though
not always the magic - of the best performances. The faster
sections are good when they are loud: there is a lot of energy.
When they are quiet, again, not all is said that can be said.
The playing is very warm and humane; it has gold where others
have quicksilver. Personally, I think quicksilver suits this
music better - some may disagree.
The ensemble is well combined. I would especially praise the
cellist Daniel Veis: his sound is always full and beautiful,
with a fine feeling for nuance. The piano of Martino Tirimo
is good too, but the violin of Ben Sayevich lacks finesse at
some moments. The tempi, with all their frequent fluctuations,
are excellently chosen. The recording quality is very good,
opulent and spacious, well matching the "warm" approach
of the ensemble. The insert notes tell briefly about Dvořák's
biography, the works, and the performers.