Review by: David Hurwitz
Artistic Quality: 10
Sound Quality: 10
These are the same performances originally issued as Denon digitals, though the sonic differences between that edition and these analog tapes are negligible. Perhaps the former sounds a touch smoother, the latter a bit more open and tactile, but both were beautifully recorded by any standard. Either way, if you don’t own these renditions then you don’t really know the Dvorák trios, for this set has never been surpassed. There are too many memorable moments to list here, but to mention just a few: the first trio’s exquisitely realized Adagio molto e mesto, which “feels” both slow and sad but never loses its onward flow; the impressively argued opening movement of Trio No. 2; and the second and third movements of the Dumky Trio, whose alternating sections reveal a veritable encyclopedia of subtle rhythmic emphasis and characterful use of accent.
As for the great F minor Trio (No. 3), well, for my money this is arguably the grandest work in the medium written by anyone, and here we have its finest recorded performance. Note the way violinist Josef Suk (the composer’s great-grandson), cellist Josef Chuchro, and pianist Jan Panenka energize the opening measures and call the music to life; or the rhythmic tension they generate in the scherzo, never playing too quickly and always emphasizing the rhythm of two against three; or those long-breathed, singing phrases in the Poco adagio that carry right over the rests; and finally, a finale that sets its sights on the triumphant final bars and never looks back. Just listening to these musicians interact, to their care in ensemble balance and their total understanding of where to focus the listener’s ear at any given point, serves as a classic instance of great chamber music playing. Don’t miss this set. It’s a marvel.
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Recording Details:Reference Recording: This One
ANTONIN DVORÁK - Complete Piano Trios