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Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
Piano Trio No. 3 in F minor, Op. 65 (1883) [41.04]
Piano Trio No. 4 in E minor, Op. 90 ‘Dumky’ (1890-91) [30.24]
Mori Trio
rec. 2017, Immanuelskirche, Wuppertal, Germany

On Hänssler Classic, Mori Trio release its debut album of Dvořák’s final two piano trios. By the time of writing these scores Dvořák had become an established international figure thanks primarily to his first set of Slavonic Dances. I was interested to discover that German based Mori Trio are a family unit as Aiki and Asa are sisters and Mori-von Schnitzler is Aiki’s husband.

From 1883 Dvořák’s four movement Piano Trio No. 3 belongs to a period when the composer had consolidated his personal style in a work sequentially written between his Sixth and Seventh Symphonies. His design for formal clarity and motivic concentration is evident in this F minor work. The Mori Trio is most successful in displaying the writing’s heightened expression and darker hues of an often-unsettling, rather provocative character. Splendid is the invigoratingly fresh quality given to the Scherzo-like second movement Allegretto grazioso - Meno mosso contrasting passionate agitation with lyricism and tranquility. Particularly thoughtful is the playing of the elegiac and meditative third movement Poco Adagio.

The Trio No. 4 known as ‘Dumky’ is one of Dvorak’s best known and most admired chamber compositions. Completed in 1891 this nationalistically flavoured work sees Dvořák infusing the score with the ‘Dumka’, a type of traditional folk-song, by using the form in a six movement scheme. The Mori Trio take these considerable demands, and the required concentration, in their stride. Rich in themes, colourful scoring and varied treatment of melancholy and with happy dance-like ideas, the ‘DumkyTrio is expertly performed. Striking throughout is the Mori Trio’s adept use of mood and colour, especially its control of the varying tempi and dynamic. I particularly enjoyed the trio’s superb playing in the challenging final movement Lento maestoso managing the suppressed tension and anxiety quite outstandingly.

There is respectable clarity with a balance that places the piano slightly forward in the sound picture. I would have no hesitation recommending this release had the over-bright violin sound been somewhat richer in tone. Jens Markowsky provides the essay in the booklet which is a helpful and enjoyable read.

These new accounts are gratifyingly played, displaying excellent unity and intonation, and it’s undoubtedly an album I will continue to reach for. Nevertheless, the album containing both these works from the starry trio of Ax, Kim and Ma on CBS Masterworks continues to hold pride of place in the catalogue for its sheer refinement and heightened expression.

Michael Cookson

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