Dvorák: Piano Trios

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

LABELS: ArtistLed
ALBUM TITLE: Dvorák: Piano Trios
WORKS: Piano Trios: No. 3 in F minor, Op. 65; No. 4 in E minor, Op. 90 (Dumky)
PERFORMER: Philip Setzer (violin), David Finckel (cello), Wu Han (piano)


These two trios represent opposing poles in Dvoπák’s output. Op. 65 was written in 1883 when Dvoπák was at his closest to Viennese Classicism, with Brahms very much on his mind. It is a fine work but can seem rather effortful and austere in the wrong hands. The Dumky Trio was composed in 1891 as a farewell to Bohemia, just before Dvoπák left for the New World in 1892. It was designed to appeal to all tastes and was taken on tour, with the composer playing the piano, through much of Bohemia and Moravia; yet it also contains some of his most passionate and experimental music – quite unlike anything he had composed before.

There are many things to admire about this performance of the Op. 65 Trio. The mixture of craft and passion brings out the subtleties in the outer movements while not sacrificing a strong sense of purpose. The outer sections of the Scherzo seem a little clipped, but the Poco adagio has depth and beauty of line. Altogether, this is very recommendable performance. The players bring a great deal of passion, appropriately so, to the Dumky Trio. Unfortunately the piano tone is a little on the hard side at times – rather damagingly in the faster sections of the third, fourth and fifth Dumky – and some of the cello accompanying is on the obtrusive side. While there is much singing tone from the strings, in general this performance falls a fair way behind the Gould Trio and is certainly no match for the Borodin’s.


Jan Smaczny