DVORÁK Piano Trios Opp 65 & 90 (Mori Trio)
The Mori Trio – a family affair with sisters Asa (piano) and Aiki (cello) joined by violinist Werner von Schnitzler, who is also Aiki’s husband – here make their debut on record with two of Dvořák’s best loved trios.
In the Dumky the Mori’s cellist sets the scene with a great arc of sound and the constantly shifting tempos are well judged throughout, even if the tuning is very occasionally a little rough around the edges. They patently relish the rapt sections of the second movement, while imbuing the faster writing with a rustic weightiness; here the Florestan take a more airborne approach, the music whirling and whirring away. Poise is in plentiful supply in the Andante fourth movement, the cello richly sonorous against the quietly marching accompaniment of violin and piano, while the violin lets rip in the surging, soaring melody (track 8, 1'54"). This is contrasted with the sparklingly characterful Allegro fifth movement, bringing out its folk elements with aplomb. If other groups convey the consistently varied colours and moods of the final sixth movement to even greater effect – the Wanderer are particularly impressive here – that’s not to take away from a performance that impresses overall.
However, Op 65, which is placed first on the disc, is less convincing. It’s partly down to tempo and partly a matter of textural balance. The first movement, for instance, sounds somewhat short on energy compared to the Wanderer, the Busch or the Florestan – it’s not a case of speed per se but more to do with the way these other groups use the phrasing to get a sense of momentum. Sample the passage beginning at 4'58" (track 1): on this new recording, cello and violin duet nicely over piano accompaniment; but as the music hots up and the piano joins in the dotted rhythms, the effect is just a touch stolid. The Florestan here start sotto voce and with great intensity, and as the piano takes up the action there’s a sense of driving the music forwards, to thrilling effect.
Similarly, in the Allegretto grazioso the Mori adopt a similar speed to the Wanderer but the effect is different – the latter fining down the string accompaniment to a minimum, allowing the piano the limelight. I like the slow movement taken at a relatively spacious tempo – the Wanderer are just a touch too fast for my taste – but unlike the Florestan, who find a great stillness in the music, the Mori just sound a tad earthbound. The finale comes across better, though, with the new group choosing a tempo that allows for touches of grace alongside the high spirits (something that the Busch Trio miss thanks to their fast and furious approach), though in terms of colour and balance, the Florestan are pretty much unassailable.