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Eduard NÁPRAVNÍK (1839-1916)
Piano Trio in G minor, Op.24 (1876) [36:50]
Piano Trio No.2 in D minor, Op.62 (1897) [27:49]
Mélancolie (1886, arr. Spyros Piano Trio and Myroslav Krill) [4:51]
Spyos Piano Trio (Bartek Nizioł (violin), Denis Severin (cello), Tatiana Korsunskaya (piano))
rec. 2016, Konzerthaus der Abtei Marienmünster
MDG SACD 9031996-6 [69:32]

A good long time ago I reviewed a set of Svetlanov performances of music by Medtner which included, almost as an afterthought, a few examples of compositions by Eduard Nápravnik. The Czech-born composer, like so many of his executant confrères, ended up in St Petersburg where the Russian Schools, an amalgam of native Russian, Czech and Hungarian teaching, thrived during the nineteenth-century and beyond.

Most of his music has been overlooked, though Hyperion has recorded his Piano Concerto and other pieces have appeared over the years. The two Piano Trios here, composed over a two-decade span, offer large-scale opportunities for the players and also a chance for the listener to get to grips still further with his art. The G minor Trio dates from 1876 and is inaugurated by some decidedly stormy declamation, restless and animated but with sufficient chances for the piano to lead to provide moments of contrast. There’s gracious dance-like element to the Allegretto, with warmly voiced string unisons, and the Scherzo is rhythmically tactile with a more festive B section. The Alla Russe finale has its melancholy moments in which assertion and plaintive response is the key, an alternation between bluffness and introspection.

The 1897 Trio is more compact and, unlike the earlier work, has a fully developed real slow movement. It’s abuoyant, confident, technically elegant work featuring a genial Scherzo whose nagging little piano figures offer witty interplay, though the long-breathed romance of the contrasting B section is the real heartland of the movement. The Elegie is vaguely reminiscent of the central work in the programme, the Mélancolie, the Adagio from Piano Pieces, Op.48 No.3, a work I greatly admired in its string orchestra guise in the Svetlanov-conducted version, and do again in the piano trio arrangement here by members of the Spyos Piano Trio and Myroslav Krill. It’s in the same key and shares the same sense of withdrawn expression.

There’s no doubt that these are hardly epochal or profound examples of the piano trio genre, but they’re played with great commitment by the Spyros team, of which the violinist will probably be the best-known member. The generous acoustic and booklet offer fine support.

Jonathan Woolf
Previous review: David Barker



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