WORKS: Piano Trio in E minor; Elegy, Op. 23; Piano Trio No. 2 in E minor, Op. 67
PERFORMER: Ahn Trio
CATALOGUE NO: CDC 5 56674 2
Dvorák was well aware that his Dumky Trio would have enormous popular appeal, even stating once that it was designed for all kinds of tastes. Though certainly accurate in his prediction for the work – the Dumky is by far his most popular trio both with performers and audiences – few ensembles are entirely successful in capturing its wide mood swings while still managing to preserve the line of its powerful emotional logic. The Ahn Trio, in an excellent recording, comes close to perfection in much of the work; indeed, its playing of the first two movements, alive to every nuance, is among the best I have heard. A slightly harder tone obtrudes in the third movement, but the fourth is back to the same high standards as before with a genuinely playful reading of the faster sections and a superbly paced build to the main climax. The only imperfection in the remaining movements is a slight miscalculation in the exhilarating rush to the finale’s close. The ultimate recommendation remains the Beaux Arts Trio’s version in its complete set of the Trios on Philips, but this enormously stimulating performance will be one to return to again and again.
The Ahn’s performance of Suk’s Elegy, while never less than beautiful, is not quite as persuasive. But its way with Shostakovich’s volatile, hugely expressive wartime Trio in E minor reflects the virtues of its interpretation of the Dvorák. Its rendition of the last three movements, in particular, seems completely at one with the composer’s intentions. Jan Smaczny