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DVORAK PIANO TRIOS 2CD SET
Gould Piano Trio

 

 

 
1. Dvorak, Antonin [14:05]
Trio Op.21 (i) Allegro molto

2. Dvorak, Antonin [07:54]
Trio Op.21 (ii) Adagio molto e mesto

3. Dvorak, Antonin [06:35]
Trio Op.21 (iii) Allegretto scherzando

4. Dvorak, Antonin [06:04]
Trio Op.21 (iv) Allegro vivace

5. Dvorak, Antonin [13:54]
Trio in F minor Op.65 (i) Allegro ma non troppo

6. Dvorak, Antonin [07:07]
Trio in F minor Op.65 (ii) Allegretto grazioso

7. Dvorak, Antonin [10:30]
Trio in F minor Op.65 (iii) Poco adagio

8. Dvorak, Antonin [10:26]
Trio in F minor Op.65 (iv) Allegro con brio

9. Dvorak, Antonin [13:14]
Trio in G minor Op.26 (i) Allegro moderato

10. Dvorak, Antonin [06:26]
Trio in G minor Op.26 (ii) Largo

11. Dvorak, Antonin [06:17]
Trio in G minor Op.26 (iii) Scherzo - Presto

12. Dvorak, Antonin [06:14]
Trio in G minor Op.26 (iv) Allegro non tanto

13. Dvorak, Antonin [04:14]
Trio in E minor Op.90 Dumky (i) Lento maestoso

14. Dvorak, Antonin [06:37]
Trio in E minor Op.90 Dumky (ii) Poco adagio

15. Dvorak, Antonin [06:14]
Trio in E minor Op.90 Dumky (iii) Andante

16. Dvorak, Antonin [05:16]
Trio in E minor Op.90 Dumky (iv) Andante moderato

17. Dvorak, Antonin [04:23]
Trio in E minor Op.90 Dumky (v) Allegro

18. Dvorak, Antonin [05:13]
Trio in E minor Op.90 Dumky (vi) Lento maestoso

Artist(s):
Gould Piano Trio,


In over twenty years together, the Gould Trio has firmly established an enviable reputation for musical integrity and imagination, which has continued to evolve since their early success in winning the Charles Hennen (Holland), Vittorio Gui (Italy) and Melbourne international chamber-music competitions.

A constantly developing career reflects their musical energy, with regular tours to the U.S.A. and Europe; recent appearances including the Bath Mozart Fest, Hay-on-Wye (BBC Radio 3), and the RNCM and Lofoten (Norway) International Chamber Music Festivals. They enjoy planning and sharing their own chamber music festival in Corbridge, Northumberland (with clarinettist Robert Plane), their interaction between invited artists and a very loyal audience being a recipe for renewal and inspiration.

‘The Goulds’ are the first ensemble to record the complete cycle of Brahms’ piano trios, including his two surviving early essays in the genre and the famous clarinet and horn trios (Robert Plane and David Pyatt respectively). An endeavour close to their hearts in recent years has been to reinstate the late British Romantics in the catalogue with Stanford, Bax, Ireland appearing on Naxos and Cyril Scott on Chandos. Their homage to Messiaen – ‘Quatour pour la fin du temps’ (Chandos) - in his centenary year - was described by BBC Music Magazine as ‘…the best modern account…’ of the work.

As well as the trios’ performances, they feel passionate about passing on their craft to younger aspiring musicians, working closely with students at both the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff, and at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.


 

 


Antonín Dvořák (Toník to his family and friends) was born on 8 September 1841 in the Czech village of Nelahozeves, the first-born son of an inn keeper who was also the local butcher. Toník received his first violin lessons from his father, and by the age of five was able to entertain visitors at the inn with his fiddle playing. In an age before recordings or radio were available, music-making was a major source of diversion and entertainment in a rural village; even Dvořák’s father had some proficiency as a zither player. One can imagine how entertaining both guests and villagers would have encouraged Dvořák to develop his improvisatory skills and distinctive melodic invention.

In his teenage years Dvořák was sent to the small town of Zlonice to study German, where he stayed with an uncle, Antonín Zdeněk. Zdeněk was sympathetic to the young Dvořák’s burgeoning talent as a musician, and during those years Dvořák took lessons in viola, piano and organ. Then, against the wishes of his father – who intended his son to follow him into the butcher’s trade – Dvořák, with financial support from Zdeněk, studied at the Prague Organ School. Afterwards he literally scraped his living in Prague as an orchestral violist; during that time he played in several orchestral excerpts from Wagner, whose influence became evident in his compositions both then and for some time afterwards. He also became friends with Smetana, the Czech nationalist composer who became something of a mentor.

Given his aptitude as a practical musician, it was natural that Dvořák should have composed chamber music throughout his career. As a budding composer he composed at least two piano trios: the Adagio of one was performed in 1872 at an informal musical evening in the home of Ludevit Prochŕzka, editor of a weekly music paper, and his wife the coloratura soprano Marta Resingerovŕ.

Dvořák’s fortunes improved in 1873 when a wealthy merchant hired him to accompany himself and his wife’s singing, and also to teach his children piano. This work arrived none too soon, since a few months later in November Dvořák was obliged to marry one of his pupils, Anna, already pregnant with their first child. Three months later he took the post of organist at the St Adalbert Church, Prague. Increasingly dissatisfied by his early compositions, he destroyed several of his manuscripts – including possibly those of two piano trios of 1871, since these have been lost – and under Smetana’s influence began to compose more in the Czech idiom.

In 1874 Dvořák, now a father with his first-born son Otakar, applied for the Austrian State Prize, created to assist poor and talented young artists. Dvořák submitted 15 of his compositions to the judging panel which included the eminent music critic Hanslick and the composer Brahms. Much impressed by Dvořák’s music, the panel awarded him a generous grant, enabling him to devote more time to composition. His new-won confidence resulted in a five-month burst of creativity in 1875, during which he completed his G major String Quintet, four Moravian Duets (for soprano and tenor), Op. 20, the E major Serenade for Strings, the Piano Quartet in D, his masterful Fifth Symphony in F, and the first of his surviving Piano Trios, in B flat.

Dvořák’s Piano Trio No. 1 was composed just before he wrote the Slavonic Dances which effectively launched his international reputation. His Piano Trio No. 1 in B flat, though, has more in common with his genial Serenade for Strings, composed in the same period, whose characteristic melodic charm is particularly recalled in the first and third movements. (One wonders, too, how much Dvořák’s Trio may have influenced Brahms, whose sunny Second Symphony, composed in 1877, contains many echoes of Dvořák’s work). Dvořák’s relative immaturity in his handling of sonata form is evident at times in, for instance, his over-reliance of a simple sequence to get him through some modulation in the first movement’s development section; but there is enough engaging melodic inventiveness to charm the listener, particularly in the quirky yet endearing polka-style third movement, whose trio section also surprises with its degree of gravity. The Piano Trio in B flat was first performed in Prague on 17 February 1877 by pianist Karelze Slavkovský, violinist František Ondříček (who later performed as the soloist in the premiere of Dvořák’s Violin Concerto) and cellist Alois Sládek. Dvořák subsequently revised this Trio, making some cuts to its finale, before it was published by Schlesinger in Berlin, 1880.

Just seven months after completing his B flat Piano Trio, Dvořák composed another in G minor, writing it in a relatively short time between 4-20 January 1876. The work is often said to express his grief over the death of his first-born daughter, Josefa, who had died just two days after her birth on 19 September 1875. The fact Dvořák’s work shares the same key as Smetana’s Piano Trio, composed in memory of the latter’s daughter, would appear to substantiate this theory. However, compared to Smetana’s undoubtedly grief-filled work, Dvořák’s work is quite restrained, perhaps having more in common with Mozart’s famous G minor Symphony, though with rather less of the earlier work’s characteristic sighing phrases. In fact Dvořák’s G minor Trio is very purposeful and cogent compared to the earlier B flat Trio, serious in tone but without indulging in the kind of angst one might find in Mahler or Tchaikovsky.

The G minor was the first of Dvořák’s Piano Trios to be published, in 1878 by the German firm of Bote & Bock, and Dvořák himself took the piano part in its first performance on 29 June 1879, which was held at Turnov in Northern Bohemia with the violinist Ferdinand Lachner and cellist Alois Neruda. By this time Dvořák had won an invaluable ally in Brahms, a great admirer of his music who did much to promote Dvořák’s reputation outside his native Bohemia. In 1880 a concert devoted to Dvořák’s music was given in Brahms’s native Hamburg on 24 April, including a performance of the G minor Trio.

Dvořák enjoyed his growing success outside his native Bohemia, though he would remain defiantly proud of his Czech origins in the face of the condescension he encountered even among many of his most fervent German supporters, and by all accounts remained unspoiled by his success. Even so, his compositions grew apace in their sophistication. His growing mastery and depth of expression becomes clear in his next Piano Trio, composed in the wake of his mother’s death in December 1882. He laboured mightily over this work, reworking it after an initial draft which he completed on 31 March and in all taking almost three months to complete it, in contrast to the usual two or three weeks he usually devoted to writing a chamber work.

The result is widely regarded as the finest of not only his Trios but even of all his chamber works: indeed, the Piano Trio in F minor, Op. 65 has been described by his English biographer, John Clapham, as preparing the way to his impressive Symphony No. 7 in D minor. Certainly the F minor Trio is on an ambitious scale, lasting over 40 minutes, and contains several echoes of the composer Dvořák revered above all, Beethoven. The first movement includes a theme reminiscent of the funeral march of Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony, and there is more than a hint in the scherzo of the equivalent movement in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. But the overall style and rhetoric is very much that of late-nineteenth century Romanticism, with a power that matches the passion of Brahms. The third movement, by contrast, is intimate, while the finale, after a dramatic start, reaches an upbeat climax and after a serene episode a briskly confident conclusion. Dvořák himself played the piano part at the work’s premiere on 27 October 1883, joining the same musicians who had performed at the premiere of his Second Piano Trio.

If the F minor is regarded by Dvořák aficionados as the greatest of his chamber works, his final Piano Trio, the Dumky, is certainly the best known of his four works for that ensemble. Dvořák began composing the Dumky Trio some seven years after he had finished the F minor, completing the work on 12 February 1891. It was first performed the following April with the composer at the piano, with the violinist Lachner and cellist Hanuš Wihan. It was Wihan’s musicianship which had largely inspired the Trio and accordingly the cello is often given the lead (it was for Wihan that Dvořák subsequently composed one of his greatest masterpieces, the Cello Concerto).

Dvořák’s final Piano Trio is his most overtly Slavic work, being based entirely on the dumka. The dumka was originally a Ukrainian musical form, said to be a form of lament, though the name is apparently derived from a Slavic word ‘dumat’ meaning ‘to ponder, ruminate or meditate’. Dvořák unusually structures his Trio as a series of six dumkas, the first three played with scarcely a break, and in a sequence of related keys as if combining into a substantial first movement, while the subsequent dumkas serve as slow movement, scherzo and finale.

If the musical structures in this work seem simple compared to the more involved ones of Dvořák’s Second and Third Piano Trios, one should not be deceived into thinking that because it is built on a simple folk form that the Dumky Trio is in any way ‘simple’, certainly not in its emotional content. Consider the first Dumky, launching as it does with a dramatic flourish by the cello and piano before the violin makes its keening first entry: an attentive listener will realize the grief-stricken nature of this music, which makes the sudden change of mood to something more playful, even skittish quite disconcerting. The English musicologist Donald Tovey once described this rather alarming contrast as ‘an uncontrollable urge to dance on grandmother’s grave’: certainly the effect is rather like grieving at a funeral immediately followed by a riotous wake. One may remember Chopin achieving a similar effect in several of his extended works such as his Ballades. Not every dumka movement follows such extremes of contrast, but the complexity of their emotional content is evident throughout.

This was one of the last works Dvořák completed before his famous excursion to the United States: such was the closeness of his friendship with Brahms by then that the great composer himself proofread the Dumky Trio for publication while his friend was away in the New World.

Daniel Jaffé


   
   

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