Dvorák’s Piano Trios Opp. 65 & 90 performed by Trio Wanderer

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LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: Piano Trios Opp. 65 & 90
PERFORMER: Trio Wanderer


Composed barely seven years apart, these two trios could hardly be more different. The F minor Trio is probably Dvorák’s closest approach to the ideals of Viennese Classicism, although he adopts Beethovenian determination rather than Brahmsian reflection. By contrast, the Dumky Trio was consciously experimental: composed for audiences in the Czech provinces shortly before Dvorák left for New York, it was intended for a broad range of tastes mixing the approachable and overtly emotional with rigorous development.

The Trio Wanderer are expert in addressing both works. While they are clearly in control of the powerful formal aspects of the F minor Trio, their performance never makes it sound inhibited. They also bring a credibly Czech-sounding impetus to the furiant rhythms of the finale. The only disappointment is the very end of the Trio where Dvorák’s intentions for a powerful catharsis are underplayed.

The performance of the Dumky Trio is in many way exemplary. Throughout, the performers are alive to the interplay of sadness and laughter in the music while adhering to the abundant detail of the dynamics in the score. If they don’t externalise the emotion to the extent of the Borodin or Gould Trios, they give performances to which the listener can happily return.

Overall, however, there is a problem relating to the recorded balance. This is not a question of the string players being self-effacing or the pianist too obtrusive, it is more that the violin and cello, who play superbly throughout, could do with more prominence in the recording.


Jan Smaczny