Dvorak Fibich Martinu

COMPOSERS: Dvorak,Fibich,Martinu
LABELS: Supraphon
ALBUM TITLE: Dvorák, Fibich, Martinu
WORKS: Piano Trio in B flat, Op. 21 B51; Piano Trio in F minor; Piano Trio No. 2 in D minor
PERFORMER: Smetana Trio


This well constructed anthology offers many rewards. Dvorák’s first extant Piano Trio is one of the most successful and enjoyable chamber works of his early maturity. So many of the characteristics of his later style are clearly present, both in terms of clarity of form and melodic style; there’s even a hint at the start of Dvorák’s ‘American’ manner. Composed three years earlier in 1872, Fibich’s F minor Trio has abundant Romantic energy, albeit it lacks Dvorák’s intellectual coherence and melodic richness. Martinu’s Second Piano Trio, though a relatively late work, shows strong affinities with Dvorák, notably in the unaffectedly lyrical slow movement. As with their previous recordings, there is nothing routine about the Smetana Trio’s approach to this engaging repertoire. Every aspect of their interpretation is carefully considered without losing an ounce of spontaneity. Individual lines are remarkable for their focus and beauty, though the powerful sense of ensemble is never sacrificed to individual display. The performance of the Dvorák Trio is perhaps the most remarkable. The first movement has breadth as well as, in the delightful second melody, infectious bounce; the soulful Adagio is genuinely moving and the finale splendidly rounded; the Scherzo is a little over-brisk and it is a pity that the first movement repeat is left out, but as a whole this immensely impressive performance closely approaches the Borodin Trio’s, which remains my Benchmark recommendation. The strings are recorded superbly, though occasionally the piano sound is a little congested. Jan Smaczny