Dvořák Piano Trios Nos 3 & 4 (Dumky)
Christian Tetzlaff (violin), Tanja Tetzlaff (cello), Lars Vogt (piano)
Ondine ODE 1316-2 72:56 mins
Do we take Dvořák seriously enough? The long-established artistic partnership behind this recording offers us a composer whose chamber music transcends the superficial charms of a good folk-dance. No Brahms-lite here. The opening of the vast third trio is grand and tumultuous, the tempos generous and elastic, the rhythms never rigid, but yielding. This is thrilling, virtuosic playing. The range of string colour is huge, from throaty full-bloodedness to unearthly, silvery translucence. The fearsome keyboard parts sound effortless under Lars Vogt’s fingers.
My one quibble is that this seriousness should not preclude all crispness and lightness. The grazioso Dvořák marks in the third movement of the Trio No. 3 here leans more towards furioso. The fourth movement could be a touch less polished. Also, the full textures occasionally overshadow the cello line; when it penetrates, as in the opening of the third movement, it has all the glorious warmth one could desire. The much-loved, hugely ambitious six-movement Dumky Trio benefits more from this glowing, grand treatment. The second movement is particularly memorable, its richly sonorous opening leading to a magical, music-box presentation of the famous rustic dance theme. The final movement had moments which were darkly, unnervingly dramatic. Call me old-fashioned, but I’m unconvinced by the increasingly popular conversation-format liner note; I was none the wiser after reading the musicians’ cryptic observations. But they are evidently determined to remove any taint of triviality or shallowness or sentimentality from this fine composer’s music – and they succeed magnificently.