Dvorák Piano Trios
A favourite and appropriate pairing – Dvorak’s most passionate chamber work in harness with one of his most genial. The F minor Piano Trio (1883) was contemporaneous with the death of Dvorak’s mother; it anticipates something of the storm and stress that characterizes the great D minor Seventh Symphony (1884-5) and I am happy to say that the Florestan Trio serve it well. Sensitivity is the keyword, especially in those shaded groves – questioning bridge passages or tender asides – that border the windblown main trail. The phrasing ebbs and flows, reflecting on urgency rather than going all out to re-enact it (as Heifetz et al do on their RCA recording). Listen, for example, to cellist Richard Lester’s warm-toned statement of the first movement’s second set (2'16'' into track 1), the way violinist Anthony Marwood follows suit or the eerie darkening that greets the onset of the development section (try from, say, 4'09'' to 4'38''). All three players allow themselves plenty of expressive leeway and yet the musical line is neither distorted nor stretched too far. The second movement Allegretto is truly grazioso (so many players overstate the case here), and the qualifying meno mosso perfectly judged. And when it comes to Anthony Marwood’s sweet-centred projection of the Brahmsian melody 4'04'' into the Poco adagio, you’d be hard pressed to find a more sensitive performance. The finale is buoyant rather than especially rustic, whereas the more overtly colourful Dumky Trio inspires a sense of play and a vivid suggestion of local colour – 2'45'' into the third movement, for example, or 1'25'' into the fourth. Throughout the performance, the manifest ‘song and dance’ elements of the score (heartfelt melodies alternating with folk-style faster music) are keenly projected.
Reservations? Virtually none, save that I would have welcomed rather more drama in the F minor Trio’s first movement. The recordings are first-rate, so is Jan Smaczny’s annotation and I would say that if you’re after a subtle, musically perceptive coupling of these two works, then you could hardly do better.'