Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
Piano Trio No.1 in B flat major Op.21, B.51 (1875) [35.03]
Piano Trio No.2 in G minor Op.26, B.56 (1876) [32.12]
The Tempest Trio (Ilya Kaler (violin), Amit Peled (cello) and Alon Goldstein (piano))
rec. 2016, Spencerville Seventh-day Adventist Church, Silver Spring, Maryland, USA
NAXOS 8.573723 [67.15]
This disc is a winner on all fronts: the music, the performances and the recording. Dvořák's other piano trios tend to get overshadowed by the most famous of them, the so-called Dumky Trio. This pair are lovely pieces, full of the sort of lyricism, liveliness and, in the G minor especially, occasional melancholy that we associate with the composer.
The mid-1870s were rich years for him. He had success in winning the Austrian State Prize ‘for aspiring young composers’. He was not in fact all that young at 33, but the jury, chaired by Johannes Brahms, enthusiastically endorsed him and his career never looked back. Around the same time as these trios he wrote the Symphony No.5 in F major, the Serenade for Strings, the String Quintet with double-bass and the D major Piano Quartet. It is no surprise therefore that these substantial, four-movement works are as full of invention as they are. From the energetic opening allegro molto of the B flat major through to the allegro non tanto finale of the G minor the listener's attention never wanders. For a flavour I would suggest the third movement of No.1, the allegretto scherzando, as a joyful taster. There were only eight months between the two works, the second being scored in little over a month. The first fairly bursts with ideas and is the more optimistic of the two. The second has, by Dvořák's standards, a remarkable shortage of thematic material, three movements have but a pair of themes each and the slow movement only one, but it still has much strength in what has been called its 'painful sensibility.'
Of course all this has to be supported by first class performers and the Tempest Trio, new names to me, are absolutely that, first class. The three musicians are very experienced and though they have played world-wide, much of their work appears from their website to have been in the United States. I can only say that they are one of the very best trios I have heard. Their technical skill and musicianship shine through and it is obvious why the previous volume in the set of all Dvořák's piano trios was received with such high praise. Combined with the excellent engineering and Naxos's almost give-away price this simply has to be firmly recommended. The notes by Keith Anderson provide a general background on the composer and a short, descriptive guide to the works.