Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Dvorak: Trio Solisti - Exuberant and entertaining

Trio Solisti: Dvorak
Piano Trio No. 3 in F minor, Op. 65
Piano Trio No. 4 in E minor, Op. 90 "Dumky"

These works of repertoire standards, and have been recorded by just about every piano trio worth their salt (as well as few that weren't). So what sets the Trio Solisti's interpretations apart? There's a sense of fun that pervades these performances. To my ears, the trio enthusiastically enjoyed playing these works. And it's an attitude that benefits the music.

Dvorak's Piano Trio No. 3 start out with some very aggressive attacks from the strings. But it's all part of the heightened sense of drama the Trio Solisti brings out in the work. In the slow and lyrical passages, the ensemble plays quite tenderly -- sometimes almost heartbreakingly so. the final movement is full of verve and spirit, and fitting climax to a rollicking good time.

Dvorak based the "Dumky" trio (as the name says) on the dumka, a Slavic epic ballad. Dvorak celebrates his Czech heritage in the work, and the Trio Solisi do, too. Maria Bachmann's violin sometimes sounds like a gypsy fiddle, digging into the notes to wring out every last drop of emotion. I've heard performances where the folk elements are downplayed, making the work sound more traditionally classical -- and those are valid interpretations. The Trio Solisti, however, by celebrating the Czech roots of the "Dumky," make this a thoroughly enjoyable listening experience.

Sonically, this recording strikes just the right balance with me. The instruments are recorded close in, but not so close that there's no ambiance. The individual instruments sound cleanly, but not dry and brittle. And collectively the ensemble is nicely balanced, but not artificially so. It's an intimate, natural sound that gave me the feeling of sitting front and center of a very private concert.

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