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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lovely coupling of two piano trio masterworks..., 26 Nov 2013
Mr. Robert D. Roy (Edinburgh, Scotland United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Smetana & Dvorak: Piano Trios (Audio CD)
What is it with Supraphon and overgrown railway lines?! I have at least three other covers from the company where the players are photographed against disused railway lines.

The one thing all these releases have in common is the incredibly high quality of the artists involved and this new recording is no exception. Tempi are very well judged and there is real joy in the music making. There's a real sense of authenticity about these performances and, if I close my eyes, I can imagine I'm standing on Charles Bridge again.

The recorded sound is very good indeed with just enough air around each player to give a realistic balance.

A superb disc.
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4.0 out of 5 stars DUMKY AND MORE, 24 Mar 2014
DAVID BRYSON (Glossop Derbyshire England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Smetana & Dvorak: Piano Trios (Audio CD)
This disc offers a particularly interesting selection of music, performed for us by a particularly interesting group of young players. The producer also got me on his side right away by describing the first set of six pieces as ‘Dumky for Piano Trio’ and not using the usual term ‘The Dumky Trio’. The latter suggests something like Beethoven’s Archduke Trio, an integrated classical sonata-style work, and Dvorak’s op90 is nothing of the kind. It is a collection of six separate compositions, coherent indeed as a group, but separable too. It would have been even better if the liner and the tracks on the record had been subdivided into the sections the dumky fall into, because dumky are mood-music if there ever was mood-music. They change abruptly from one idiom to another, with extreme variations of speed reflecting the mood-swings, and it would help newcomers if this were spelled out for them:
(1) Lento maestoso /allegro quasi doppio movimento
(2) Poco adagio/vivace non troppo
(3) Andante/vivace non troppo/andante
(4) Andante moderato/allegretto scherzando/meno mosso
(5) Allegro
(6) Lento maestoso/vivace.
The other trio here is Smetana’s only published effort in the medium, a passionate outpouring of grief at the death of his infant daughter. Between the trios we have three beautiful duos, arrangements of three of Dvorak’s Slavonic Dances for piano with violin (1) and for piano with cello (2), the last of the three arrangements being by another hand after Dvorak had left the job unfinished.

The recording is very recent (2013), it is very good, so it may seem perverse that it is one of the reasons why I have not quite felt like giving this disc a fifth star. The performances are very good too, but I happen to own an old set of the dumky that is just that crucial bit better, and better not only in the performance but even in the recorded sound as well. Go to the old issue of the dumky by the Suk Trio to hear what I mean – and it looks as if it is still available here and there. The recorded sound may seem antique right at the start, but I found I could cure that by the simple expedient of boosting the volume. That seen to, you may be struck by just how vivid the contrast is between the sections of the first dumka. I can’t doubt that this is down to the playing, but another thing that impressed me was that the piano sound in the doppio movimento was more brilliant from Jan Panenka on the Suk record, and I suspect that this has more to do with the recording. Accomplished though it is the sound on the disc under review is a bit homogenised, denying the Dvorak players the individuality that the Suk group had had all that time ago. I don’t even know how old the Suk recording is, but I suspect it may have originated from Supraphon as far back as the 50’s.

That is a very striking case of what I mean when I find the all-important contrasts better put across then than now. This example is right at the outset, but it remains, basically, the same story all the way through the dumky. Smetana’s trio is not a work I get to hear very often and I have no other version for comparison, but the Dvorak trio give an impassioned and affecting account of it, and I would have wanted this disc for this item on its own if necessary. My sense of reservation about the approach taken to the recording stays as it was for the dumky, but this time I have no comparisons, odious or other, to make. This playing is most impressive, and I would draw attention to some particularly fine cello work in the first movement.

The sound in the three duos gives me no such problem, and I am glad of the chance to hear these fine young artists as they deserve to be heard. Potted biographies, necessarily short, are provided in the liner, and the essay is very interesting and informative as well. It is obviously a translation, but that gave me no difficulty except where a baffling reference is made to the ‘epical tone’ of the dumky. Is this a misprint or a mistranslation, and if so for what? An epic tone in music is something I associate with Handel or Wagner, absolutely not with Dvorak in any of his output, least of all a few dumky.

This disc is to be welcomed, and I can recommend it just for the choice of its contents as well as for the quality of the artists’ work. I hope nobody is looking for an epical tone, because that in my view would be grotesquely out of place. However you will find passion and commitment here, and they are very much in place, above all in Smetana’s rarely heard work. Our performers here are at the very start of their careers, I have no doubt that they will be heard more than rarely, and I look forward to what they have in store for us.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars CD, 13 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Smetana & Dvorak: Piano Trios (Audio CD)
Clever musicians, and lovely to listen to whenever and wherever.
I am not a musician myself, but thoroughly enjoy the hard working skills of others.
Introduced to Dvorak's compositions when a child by my mother, now 90, I became a fan!
Evocative of times past for me.
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Smetana & Dvorak: Piano Trios
Smetana & Dvorak: Piano Trios by Dvorak Trio (Audio CD - 2013)
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