DVOŘÁK Piano Trios Nos 3 & 4
Naming your new trio after one of the greatest chamber ensembles of the 20th century certainly suggests noble aspirations, and yet even after the modest passage of four years the youthful Busch Trio can boast one of the most notable features of their namesake: a pooled decision to put the music, and only the music, first.
For example, specifically the opening of the Dumky Trio’s second movement, when the key suddenly changes at around 0'34" the Busch let the music do the talking whereas the Florestans mark the moment with some subtle but in my view unnecessary punctuation – and that’s without mentioning Omri Epstein’s perfectly weighted, quietly chiming chords and cellist Ori Epstein’s expressive line on the new Alpha disc. The Busch also hold the tension and when, further along the line, the dumka’s high spirits kick in (vivace non troppo), violinist Mathieu van Bellen retains the quiet dynamic while Epstein plays a hopping staccato. All is as it should be, the following Andante letting in the sunlight, the approach like a series of narrative tone-poems, which is fairly close to Dvořák’s original intentions.
The Third Trio, Op 65, is the real ‘biggie’ in terms of scale and tension, and while there are other versions that push for more in the way of dynamism (the Beaux Arts, Isabelle Faust et al, the Suk Trio, etc), the Busch score handsomely for fine ensemble work and an obvious rapport between the players. Just one mannerism bothered me, the pianist’s halting emphasis at fig A (0'36") in the finale, which rather disrupts the flow; maybe just one ‘breath’ would have sufficed, but to keep repeating it is distracting.
Viewed overall these are very fine performances, the two string players perfectly matched, with articulate piano playing that never exceeds the limits of propriety.