Dvorák Piano Trios
Dvorák’s four Piano Trios are a fascinating and varied group. The first, composed in 1875 as Dvorák was approaching his musical maturity, is winningly lyrical with subtle thematic developments; it set the pattern for many later, far better-known chamber works. The G minor Trio, from a year later, reflects Dvorák’s sorrow over the death of his first daughter, Josefa. His Third Trio, composed in 1883, is a highpoint in his admiration for Viennese Classicism: Brahms is certainly an influence, but there is also a distinctly Beethovenian determination, particularly in the outer movements. The Dumky Trio is one of Dvorák’s most original compositions. Each movement alternates fast and slow music, and yet the ecstatic melodic writing and superb instrumentation makes it one of his most appealing chamber works.
These are mostly excellent performances matching sweet string tone with a muscular approach to musical argument. The first movement of the B flat trio could have been more expansive, but the development, with its exquisite conclusion, is impressive. The Gould’s determination pays even greater dividends in the G minor and the great F minor trios, the first movement of the latter providing a very rich experience. Their performance of the Dumky trio is exhilarating, but too often lacks nuance, and the recorded balance tends to favour the piano. Overall, there is much to enjoy in this set, but the Borodin Trio remain favourites.