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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: 5 minutes 10 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)

Elegy in D flat major, Op 23
composer
1902; 'under the impression of Zeyer's Vyšehrad'; originally for string sextet with harp and harmonium; written for the memorial of Julius Zeyer (1841-1901)

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The beautiful Elegy, Op 23, dating from 1902, was written for a memorial event celebrating the life of Julius Zeyer (1841–1901). Zeyer was a writer of novels and epic poems steeped in the history and legends of Bohemia. His influence on Suk was second only to Dvorák’s, and was made stronger by its association with the happiest years of his life around the time of his marriage to Otilie. In 1897–8 Suk composed incidental music for Zeyer’s dramatic fairy-tale Radúz a Mahulena, from which a suite became popular. Two years later Zeyer asked Suk to write music for his next play, Pod jabloní (‘Under the apple-trees’).

The Elegy is subtitled ‘Under the impression of Zeyer’s Vyšehrad’. This is an epic poem written in 1880 and set in Czech antiquity, Vyšehrad being the ancient fortress on a rock overlooking the river in Prague, which figures prominently in Czech national legends (it had already given the title to the first movement of Smetana’s orchestral cycle Má vlast in 1875). The Elegy was originally written for the unusual combination of string sextet with harp and harmonium, but was then re-scored for piano trio. If the harp and harmonium gave a romantic sense of the antique, the version for piano trio gives full voice to Suk’s rich lyricism. A yearning phrase is repeated and developed by violin and cello. There is a brief, passionate interruption, and the melody returns again. A second interruption acknowledges Suk’s great mentor Dvorák with a glancing reference to a phrase from his recent opera Rusalka before the melody winds its way to a peaceful conclusion.

from notes by Robert Philip © 2008

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