WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Foerster, Novak, Janacek, Fibich: Piano Trios

Foerster / Novak / Janacek / Kinsky Trio Prague
Release Date: 04/12/2011 
Label:  Praga   Catalog #: 250280   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Josef Bohuslav FoersterVitezslav NovákLeos JanácekZdenék Fibich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kinsky Trio Prague
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mixed 
Length: 1 Hours 11 Mins. 

This title is currently unavailable.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

FOERSTER Piano Trio No. 2. NOVÁK Piano Trio No. 2, “Quasi una ballata.” FIBICH Piano Trio in f & Kinsky Trio Prague PRAGA PRD/DSD 250 280 (71: 26)

& JANÁ?EK Pohádka

Fresh from my review of Josef Bohuslav Read more Foerster’s music for string quartet in Fanfare 34:4, I find that his Second Piano Trio features in this disc of Czech piano trios, augmented by the four-movement version of Leo? Janá?ek’s Pohádka . Foerster’s big, three-movement work of 1894 lacks something of the ambivalences of tone and biographical resonance that ran through one or two of the quartets and, for the most part, presents an altogether sunnier and more consistently genial face. There’s plenty of convincingly energetic rhythmic pointing, too, in this performance by the Kinsky Trio, which is rather fleeter all around than the eponymous Foerster Trio, which has recorded all three of the composer’s trios on Supraphon SU 3603-2. This greater dynamism may well appeal, as it takes the indication molto energico in the first movement at face value and in the final movement, which is an expressive and formally interesting Adagio, the Kinsky is equally concerned to keep the elegiac mood subject to a more urgent sense of drama than the Foerster Trio. Both these performances are, in a sense, therefore complementary, and equally valid, and valuable.

I suspect a poll of concert performances would reveal that Vít?ezslav Novák’s most popular chamber work is his Trio in D Minor, subtitled “Quasi una Ballata.” It’s not hard to see why, so unforced is the lyricism, so delightful the sweep, and so plangent the depth. Once again, the defining feature of the Kinsky’s approach is a refusal to linger unnecessarily, combined with an equally fiery commitment. They dig straight into the Andante tragico opening section and are careful to characterize each of the work’s six distinct sections strongly. Thus the quasi Scherzo is energetically pointed, its rather curled lip strongly audible in this traversal, where other trios can downplay it. There’s a fine overall sweep and command to this very impressive performance. But one should also note that other ensembles have taken different approaches, and if one judges the Kinsky too rugged and hectoring in places, not that that is necessarily my own feeling, then the older New Prague Trio provides a salutary rebuttal in its Supraphon LP from 1972, where violinist Ivan ?traus, cellist Sa?a Ve?tomov, and pianist Josef Pálenícek prove that keeping your powder dry, varying dynamics and vibrato width, as well as canny phraseology, can pay rich dividends.

The earliest work on the disc is the 1872 F-Minor Trio of Zden?ek Fibich. This is a rather Schumannesque affair and the Kinsky plays it with considerable power once more. It’s a work that suits the musicians’ combative qualities, not least in the Vivacissimo finale, to which the trio does justice with quicksilver articulation. They rather leave the New Prague Trio, who coupled it with the Novák on LP, in their wake, though again the Kinsky is less introspective in the slower movement, sounding a touch brusque when heard beside the New Prague. For all that the Kinsky has probably chosen a more appropriate tempo.

Violinist Lucie Sedláková H?lová naturally sits out Pohádka , allowing her cellist colleague (and husband) Martin Sedlák to get to grips with its complexities with pianist Slávka P?cho?ová. The genesis of the work, as with Janá?ek’s Violin Sonata, is complicated but in essence its first performance, in Brno in 1910, was as a three-movement work. Later, in 1912, it was revised in four movements, then there was a reversion to the original three, in which form it’s almost always heard today. Back in 1910 the composer was effectively workshopping the work, unsure quite how many movements it would have, and indeed whether it was to become a cello sonata. This performance therefore restores the second version authoritatively, in a warmly attractive reading. It offers a good insight, too, into the intermediate gestation of the work, though I still think that the three-movement revision is the better-constructed and convincing version. As a footnote to that, I recall that Steven Isserlis and Olli Mustonen recorded the work twice in their recital disc (RCA Victor Red Seal 09026 68437 2) playing the standard 1923 version and a so-called “supplementary version” that included the discarded fourth movement but didn’t revert to the 1912 four movements. To make things even more confusing, the notes advised one to compile a five-movement Pohádka by tracking between the two versions in the order indicated. At which point, I think, even the most hardened admirer of the composer would have balked.

Fine engineering in the Martin? Hall in Prague ensures that these eager, youthful performances are heard in the best light.

FANFARE: Jonathan Woolf
Read less

Works on This Recording

Trio for Piano and Strings no 2 in B flat major, Op. 38 by Josef Bohuslav Foerster
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kinsky Trio Prague
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1894; Bohemia 
Venue:  Martinu Hall, Prague 
Length: 22 Minutes 58 Secs. 
Trio for Piano and Strings, Op. 27 "Quasi una ballata" by Vitezslav Novák
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kinsky Trio Prague
Period: Romantic 
Written: Bohemia 
Venue:  Martinu Hall, Prague 
Length: 17 Minutes 5 Secs. 
Fairy tale by Leos Janácek
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kinsky Trio Prague
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1910-23; Brno, Czech Republic 
Venue:  Martinu Hall, Prague 
Length: 14 Minutes 41 Secs. 
Trio for Piano and Strings in F minor by Zdenék Fibich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kinsky Trio Prague
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1872; Bohemia 
Venue:  Martinu Hall, Prague 
Length: 15 Minutes 55 Secs. 

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title