Piano Quartet No. 2 in E flat, Op. 87; Piano Trio No. 4 in E minor, ‘Dumky’*; Gypsy Songs, Op. 55 – Songs my mother taught me (arr. cello and piano); Terzetto in C, Op. 74 – Scherzo; Humoresques, Op. 191 – Poco lento e grazioso
Kevin Zhu, Chad Hoopes (violin), Matthew Lipman (viola), Jan Vogler (cello), Juho Pohjonen, *Tiffany Poon (piano)
Sony Classical 19658710672 70:29 mins
Jan Vogler has a long and distinguished track record with Dvořák’s music. It’s more than 15 years since Sony released his album The Secrets of Dvořák’s Cello Concerto, which despite its slightly gimmicky title was notable for including some arrangements of songs for cello. Although subheadings slightly overwork the concept of his new Dvořák Album, the ‘Prelude’ here is again a song arrangement – ‘Songs my mother taught me’, in which (joined by the pianist Juho Pohjonen) Vogler pours out smooth, warm tone with unindulgent restraint. After the passionate chamber music showcased by this programme, the ‘Postlude’ is designed as a sort of sorbet, but the pianist Tiffany Poon is a little over-emphatic in the most famous of the Humoresques, Op. 101, veering close to hackneyed tradition.
The focus, however, is on two of Dvořák’s great chamber works, in performances that conjure up the spirit of the Moritzburg Festival, where Vogler is director; as he notes, there has not been a single summer there in 30 years without Dvořák on the programme. Under the heading of ‘Musical salon’, the Piano Quartet No. 2 in E flat, Op. 87, is played with flowing lyricism. The cello dominates at the start of all six movements of the ‘Dumky’ Trio, Op. 90, and Vogler is eloquent and poetic in a work he sees as representing ‘Bohemian Countryside’. As the ‘Interlude’ designed to transport us there, the Scherzo from the Terzetto in C, Op. 74, has the right momentum to evoke a ride aboard one of Dvořák’s beloved trains.