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Hyperion Records

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Autumn (1912) by Franz Dvorák (1862-1927)
Private Collection; reproduced by kind permission of the copyright holders, Whitford & Hughes, UK / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67572
Recording details: May 2007
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: February 2008
Total duration: 33 minutes 8 seconds

'The Florestan are wonderfully sympathetic interpreters, catching the music's youthful freshness and ardour with no false rhetoric. They take care to keep the textures uncluttered, phrase with a natural expressiveness, and show an idiomatic feel for the dance rhythms that pervade these trios. Both slow movements are intensely moving, with soft playing of rare intensity and subtlety, while the allegretto intermezzo in No 1 is deliciously airy. The yearning Elegy by Dvořak's son-in-law, Josef Suk, makes a welcome and touching bonus' (The Daily Telegraph)

'The Florestan Trio bring exactly the right kind of interpretative vitality and insight to the table, rejoicing in the music's exuberant dance rhythms and melodic fecundity while ensuring that the various ideas flow into one another with compelling inevitability … the Florestan are now clear leaders in the Dvořák piano trio stakes' (International Record Review)

'Enchantment strikes straight away. There's that clean freshness and bounce, the trio's trademark. There's Dvořák himself, strongly lyrical and folksy at the start of his Op 21 Piano Trio. The players balance one another: Richard Lester's cradling cello, Anthony Marwood's emotionally generous violin, Susan Tomes's energising piano. Dvořák's Op 26 trio—subtler, more thoughtful—is a neat contrast. The usual excellent Hyperion recording' (The Times)

'Dvořak's first two trios are in good hands here. The Florestan Trio has always had the happy knack of both capturing character in an instant and bringing coherence to extended structures. These performances are by turns joyous, dance-like, seductive, introspective and dramatic, and all the while commendably free of self-indulgence, for beneath the surface colour there is serious musical purpose, a sense of clear direction and narrative cohesion … the recording, too, is superb—the playing is forward and clear with just enough bloom to give warmth, and the balance is immaculate' (The Strad)

'The Florestan Trio chose Dvořák's better-known later trios for one of its earliest CDs, and fans have waited patiently for more. At last, we're rewarded with a wonderfully warm and subtle performance from one of the finest trios around … the Florestan Trio doesn't disappoint with its members' effortless musicianship—a sweetly judged combination of verve and lyricism' (Classic FM Magazine)

'As with the first disc in this cycle, the performances by the Florestan Trio are models of sensitive chamber music playing. Balances among the three instruments are always well judged; the rhythms in the scherzos are well-sprung, while the slow movements have warmth without schmaltz' (ClassicsToday.com)

'1875 is considered something of a breakthrough year for Dvořák … it is from amidst this bounteous spell of creativity that the masterful Piano Trio in B flat major, Op 21 emerged. This is a work brimming with trademarks of the composer's genius, ranging from impassioned yearning in the Adagio molto e mesto to unbridled exuberance in the finale. The Florestan Trio once again prove to be ideal exponents of these characteristics. Every nut and bolt of the musical construction is treated with the utmost care, every cadential juncture managed with enchanting subtlety. Not once does this opulence of expression threaten to relinquish its position to the maudlin forces of sentimentality' (Musical Criticism.com)

'The Florestan Trio is superb in these works, playing with energy and lyricism, tough in the more dramatic sections, warm when warmth is needed. The material is blessed with well-balanced, vibrant engineering that helps make this disc an attractive introduction to a neglected corner of Dvořák's output' (The Absolute Sound, USA)

Piano Trio in B flat major, Op 21 B51
composer
14 ?May 1875

Allegro molto  [13'30]
Allegro vivace  [6'00]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
There are perhaps signs that Dvorák was still struggling to form his easy melodic gift into a full-scale ‘serious’ chamber work, but there can be no doubting the identity of the composer as the trio opens. The serene arch of the theme, with its harmonies fluctuating between major and relative minor, is pure Dvorák. A sudden burst of energy transforms this opening into a falling arpeggio figure, which leads on to the first fully fledged melody, over a rocking figure. There is another surge of energy, which subsides to the second main theme. This is as characteristic as the opening, with its gentle, reiterated phrases in folk-style, and it dominates the remainder of this first section. The central development returns to the arching melody of the opening and its rapid arpeggio transformation, building two climaxes from these elements. The second climax culminates in a majestic return to the opening, now fortissimo. The movement is capped by a powerful coda, which subsides to a charming, unexpectedly quiet ending.

The Adagio molto e mesto is in the contemplative style of a dumka and is one of Dvorák’s most heartfelt slow movements. The melancholy opening theme in G minor is explored three times, first by the piano, then by the cello, and finally by the violin. This third paragraph leads into new keys, arriving eventually in A major, and here the second theme begins. Like the second theme of the first movement, it is made up of little repeated phrases almost in ‘folk’ manner, but formed into a beautiful developing shape in Dvorák’s most relaxed and lyrical style. The music becomes more agitated, subsides again, and returns to the opening melody, now in F sharp minor rather than in its original key. An insistent drumbeat in the bass of the piano leads to another build-up, but this evaporates into an ecstatic reprise of the second theme. Eventually the music winds round to G minor, and the first theme is boldly restated fortissimo, finally settling to a dark pianissimo to end the movement.

The Allegretto scherzando has a charming, song-like informality, beginning with the violin and cello in counterpoint. A series of accelerations, decelerations, and broader tempo changes underlines the sense of a delightful narrative unfolding. The central trio has a longer span, and a more serious demeanour. The finale (Allegro vivace) begins with an exploration in G minor and seems very like Schumann, almost quoting the opening of his Piano Trio in F major. It is Schumann-like too in its fluid harmonies, the interplay between the three instruments, and its gradual build-up of energy. This culminates in a sturdy fortissimo theme in the home key of B flat. A second theme has a gentler swing, and an extended discussion develops from it. While the swinging rhythm continues, the dumka theme from the slow movement reappears in the cello (again, this might be inspired by one of the great piano trios, Schubert’s E flat trio D929). This leads on to the reprise, and finally into an exuberant coda.

from notes by Robert Philip © 2008

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