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Smetana: Piano Trio In G Minor; Dvorak: Slavonic Dances; Dumky / Dvorak Trio

Dvorak Trio
Release Date: 11/19/2013 
Label:  Supraphon   Catalog #: 4144   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Bedrich SmetanaAntonín Dvorák
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dvorák Trio
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

DVORÁK Piano Trio No.4 in e, op. 90 “Dumky.” Slavonic Dances, op. 46/2, 3, 8. SMETANA Piano Trio in g, op.15 Jan Fiser (vn); Tomás Jamník (vc); Ivo Kahánek (pn) SUPRAPHON 4144-2 (72: 51)

It’s another Yogi Berra moment for me here. I reviewed an almost identical program in 37:2, played by the young Read more Australian Benaud Trio. The only difference is that the Benaud quirkily included an arrangement by Nicholas Buc of Freddie Mercury’s Bohemian Rhapsody (not something I ever recall the Beaux Arts Trio tossing off as an encore) whereas the Czech musicians on Supraphon play three Slavonic Dances.

Good though the Benaud performance was of the Smetana, it’s surpassed by that of Jan Fiser, Tomás Jamník, and Ivo Kahánek. I wondered in the case of the Melba CD whether the Benaud hadn’t underplayed some of the opportunities for personalization, even as they managed to capture the militant melancholy of the music. I still think they do, and this new Supraphon reading, recorded at the HAMU Sound Studio in Prague in July 2013, demonstrates how a more authoritative performance emerges when the players balance expressive gestures with a firm sense of architecture. In fact a strong sense of pulse, and crisp, taut rhythm, is embedded in all the performances on the disc. The forward-moving direction of the Trio in G Minor, which seems to be becoming more popular of late, is presented in the context of the music’s flammable drama through warmly molded but never indulged instrumental felicities. Amongst the most persuasive is pianist Ivo Kahánek’s playing in the central movement.

The “Dumky” is, as noted in my earlier review of the Benaud recording, a difficult work truly successfully to convey on disc. Some performances fall into the trap of a kind of sameness throughout the six movements, the result being a fatal lack of differentiation. The Benaud could be a little heavy-handed, but that’s certainly not a criticism to be leveled at this new recording. What most defines this reading is its strong sense of the music’s rhythmic bases. The tautness is well-sprung but not metrical, even though there is a military kind of rhythm to be heard in the central panel of the second movement. The piano’s folkloric explorations in the fourth movement are excellently realized whilst the melancholy in the fast fifth is brought out by violinist Jan Fiser, as earlier the cello soliloquies had been so resonantly played by Tomás Jamník. Rhythmic acuity allied to individual tonal strengths make for a fine performance of the “Dumky.” Only a slight recession in the violin sound earns a mild reproof.

The three Slavonic Dances are the entr’acte, offering a pleasing contrast and light-heartedness, and an opportunity to seek shelter from the stormy emotions elsewhere to be heard. The A-Major, op.46/3, is heard in the arrangement made very recently by Jirí Gemrot, in preference to the established completion by Jarmil Burghauser.

Of the three, Kahánek is probably the best known on disc, but he proves to be a considerate ensemble performer and is worthily matched by his string colleagues. Their trio is shaping up to provide real competition to older established groups in the Czech lands, not least the Guarneri Trio Prague and the Smetana Trio.

FANFARE: Jonathan Woolf
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Works on This Recording

Trio for Piano and Strings in G minor, Op. 15 by Bedrich Smetana
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dvorák Trio
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1855; Czech Republic 
Trio for Piano and Strings no 4 in E minor, Op. 90/B 166 "Dumky" by Antonín Dvorák
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dvorák Trio
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1890-1891; Bohemia 
Slavonic Dances (8) for Orchestra, Op. 46/B 83: no 8 in G minor, Furiant by Antonín Dvorák
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dvorák Trio
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878; Bohemia 
Slavonic Dances (8) for Orchestra, Op. 46/B 83: no 5 in A major, Skocná by Antonín Dvorák
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dvorák Trio
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878; Bohemia 
Slavonic Dances (8) for Orchestra, Op. 46/B 83: no 2 in E minor, Dumka by Antonín Dvorák
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dvorák Trio
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878; Bohemia 

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