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Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
Piano Trio No. 3 in F minor, Op. 65 [41:10]
Piano Trio No. 4 in E minor, Op. 90, Dumky [31:32]
Tempest Trio
rec. 26-29 May 2013, Spencerville Seventh-Day Adventist Church, Silver Spring, Maryland, USA
NAXOS 8.573279 [72:42]

These are good times to love the Dvorák piano trios. In addition to the classic recordings by Czech groups like the Suk Trio and Guarneri Trio Prague, recent years have brought us a terrific Dumky from Jean-Guihen Queyras, Isabelle Faust, and Alexander Melnikov; a new Trio No. 3 from Sitkovetsky & Co. last year; and a truly outstanding coupling of the two works from the American Trio Solisti. That last one was very nearly one of my 2013 Recordings of the Year. Now Naxos is wandering into territory that's even more crowded.

The results are plenty good, though not great. The Tempest Trio represents violinist Ilya Kaler's happy settling-down into chamber music after decades of recording solo. He's an experienced, usually golden-toned player, and he is the best part of the trio, although pianist Alon Goldstein is also a capable performer, though less strong a personality. There may be reservations about cellist Amit Peled or maybe there is a problem with the balance: in some big climaxes of the Brahmsian Trio No. 3, he becomes inaudible, muffled by the other two musicians.

These players are consistently capable, and their music-making is always pretty. However, it lacks urgency: that electric energy which charges through your ears when you're hearing the Trio Solisti or another classic account. The Third Trio should be taut with drama, as tightly coiled as Brahms, while the Fourth can do with being relaxed but that's simply not how I prefer it. It's a good interpretation for what it is, but for me the music can reveal more, even if it is "just" a suite of folk-style pieces. There's a fine line between good and great, and no doubt on which side of the line this album lies.

Brian Reinhart