Dvořák trios … played by the dream team

Chamber music playing doesn’t get better than this. The Pavel Haas Quartet have made two stunning, award-winning, CDs of Quintets by Dvořák and by Brahms with Boris Giltburg as pianist. Now half the Quartet get together with Giltburg again to play all four Dvořák trios, the final Dumky Trio of course, and perhaps you already know the third trio — but the first two were quite new to me.

This is just a marvellous double CD. Here’s Katherine Cooper, writing for Presto Music:

As on the earlier recording of the [Dvořák] Piano Quintet, there are moments when the collective sound is so massive that it hardly seems credible that so few musicians are involved – notably in the final athletic stretches of this first trio (just before the music ebbs away like a mechanical toy running out of battery), in the near-symphonic first movement of the Piano Trio No. 3, and as the three hurtle towards the finishing-line in the first of the six ‘Dumky’ which opens No. 4. (Giltburg switches from his ’beloved’ rather soft-focus Fazioli to a bigger-boned instrument for these two later works, and both string-players match its brawn head-on).

The more introspective stretches are also beautifully done, not least the slow movements of the second and third trios (both composed in the aftermath of bereavement): the muted colours of that Fazioli really come into their own in the lovely elegy for Dvořák’s daughter in No. 2, and Jarůšek and Jarůšková respond in kind with a fragile lyricism that’s enormously touching.

A triumphant debut for this new super-trio, then, and one which whets the appetite for whatever they might choose to record next.

The reviewer at Europadisc is equally enthusiastic, concluding about the Dumky Trio:

Here, above all, these performers are in their element, and they deliver performances that are richly satisfying, exploring the full spectrum of tone colours, and combining penetrating introspection with infectious high spirits. The fast passages of the second Dumka are enough to lift anyone from despondency, while the strings’ ethereal response to the piano’s opening phrase in no.3 is a thing of wonder, as is the rounded tone of the piano’s single-line continuation. The fourth Dumka has a deliciously deliberate tread; the exultant opening of the fifth rings out, its glorious cello line punctuated by pizzicato violin chords; and the sixth and final Dumka is underpinned by wonderfully resonant cello fifths, giving way to spectacularly full-throttle tuttis. Make no mistake, this is Dvořák playing of the highest order and – even against some strong competition – these performances as a whole set a new benchmark in this marvellous quartet of works. Urgently recommended!

Yes indeed. This really is wonderfully good!

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