S&H Concert Review

Josef SUK Piano Trio Op.2 SCHUBERT Piano Trio No.2 in Eb Guarneri Trio Prague Wigmore Hall 28 January 2001

Two of the best concerts in the last week (the other was Ashley Wass' lunchtime piano recital) were at the Wigmore Hall and both were short (one hour) but profoundly satisfying. The morning Sunday coffee (or sherry) concerts attract to the Wigmore Hall full houses and major international musicians - the Guarneri Trio Prague is in my book the best Piano Trio on the international circuit, even though not the one with the best publicity machine, and some readers will not even know about them. (My search on the website turned up a review notice from Rochdale in the Dvorak Society pages of 1997, which I am pleased to append below)

I have heard them repeatedly in central London and in Blackheath and they have never disappointed or seemed to be playing by routine.

All three players have the keenest ears and adjust themselves to acoustics and the piano on offer. Ivan Klansky is a great pianist and a great chamber music pianist, never afraid to take centre stage briefly and to display a wide dynamic range from delicate to commanding, yet constantly watching his colleagues Cenek Pavlik & Marck Jeric and ever alert to collective timbre and balance. He catches the eye, whilst the string players are undemonstrative, just always there and giving just the right degree of emphasis.

The early Suk trio, composed 1889 when he was 16, rvd. '91, is delightful and entirely worth a place in the repertoire. The Schubert Eb can be problematic, with a finale which sometimes disappoints and has its longeurs, but not on this occasion. The Guaneris found a perfect collective voice of friendly exchanges, quite different from some trios which bring together famous soloists who sometimes seem to compete for the limelight. Their Supraphon CDs are desirable (start with Dvorak Dumky and Smetana) but are no substitute for the live music making experience. For a British group of equivalent stature, I would rate the Schubert Ensemble of London, reviewed recently and frequently in S&H & MW, as offering something on a par.

There is still some prejudice against piano with strings (purists, including amateurs of only modest skills) sometimes inveigh against the equal temperament of the piano, claiming it is incompatible with their own aspirations to perfection. If any colleges are seeking piano/strings tuition for aspiring chamber music players, the members of the Guarneri Trio Prague (founded 1986) would be the ones to try to persuade to give master classes. Piano trio recitals, at their best, can be amongst the most satisfying of musical experiences and these long term colleagues know all the secrets; catch them at the Wigmore Hall next time they come to London for that pleasure at its peak.

Peter Grahame Woolf

Guarneri Trio Prague, 26th October http://musicweb-international.com/dvorak/snip39.htm#Guarneri

Rochdale Music Society was fortunate to greet Cenek Pavlík, Marek Jerie and Ivan Klanský on the very top of their form for the first concert of their new series. We heard Suk's Elegie op.23, Smetana's Trio in g minor op.15 and Dvorák's Dumky Trio op.90. The CDs of the Trio on Supraphon that were on sale sold out in the interval, such was the group's impact. The playing was absolutely beautiful throughout, with the Smetana perhaps just edging the other works on the evening, such was the Guarneri Trio's passion and intensity.

In the ten years since they came together as a group, the Guarneri Trio was melded into a perfect ensemble. Their playing of Beethoven is justly applauded worldwide. For our particular interest, their performances of Czech works have few rivals and none to better them.

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