A new coupling of the excellent recordings of the Dvorák Piano Trios made by the incomparable Borodin Trio.
The Borodin Trio was formed after the three members emigrated from the Soviet Union in 1976 and it quickly established itself as one of the best piano trios of the generation.
Dvorák’s piano trios span his entire career as a composer and were one of the prime genres for his emotional out-pourings.
Dvorák is known to have written six piano trios of which two (B.25 and 26) dating from 1871, are lost. Of the surviving trios, the first two date from 1875 and 1876. They were followed by one of Dvorák’s finest chamber compositions, the Piano Trio in F minor, Op 65 (B.130) in 1883 and the most popular, the Piano Trio ’Dumky’ Op. 90 (B.166) in 1890-91.
The First Trio was written at the time when Dvorák’s music was firmly based upon nineteenth-century German Styles, but when his own distinctive style was still beginning to emerge, melodically and structurally, with clear Bohemian echoes. His admiration for the music of both Schubert and Schumann was well known and the influences of both composers can be felt in this work, notably in the first movement. It has a sunny character, with a great sense of energy and vitality.
Dvorák’s Second Trio appeared less than a year after the first, when he and his wife were struck by the sorrow at the death of their first three children. Despite a striking first theme and a sadder, sombre second subject in the first movement, Dvorák does try to dispel his sorrows by presenting the material in the final movement in both G major and minor, concluding on a note of hope.
The Third Trio reflects Dvorák’s natural lyrical gift. His melodies vary in their colouring in relation to their context and the Trio in F minor is suffused with frustration and impotence.There are four movements laid out on a grand scale, but despite the duration being almost forty-five minutes, there is no hint of it ever outstaying its welcome as Dvorák’s personal grief takes shape in tangible form. Begining with a movement pregnant with ideas, including an espressivo melody for the cello, he takes us through an obstinate scherzo, an intense and passionate slow movement, through a dreamy dialogue for the strings over a rippling piano accompaniment and then, in the Finale, back to the passionate impetuosity of the first movement, indicating that life has triumphed over death.
The ’Dumky’ was the fourth and last of Dvorák’s piano trios and it has remained one of his popular works. This emotional lament consists of six elegiac movements, starting with three virtually uninterupted movements, with a fine cadenza in the second dumka for solo cello. After the fourth movement, full of Russian character, there is a lively Scherzo and then a triumphant vivace to finally banish the slow melancholy. Dvorák’s genius brings the Slavic mixture of sadness and joy to a musical masterpiece.
Performance (Op 21 & 26) ***** (Op. 65 & 90) *** Sound *****
"... the Borodin Trio’s performances are certainly recommendable ..."
Jan Smaczny - BBC Music magazine - October 1998