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Piano Trio in E minor 'Dumky', Op 90 B166
first performed on 11 April 1891

'Dvořák: Piano Trios Nos 3 & 4' (CDA66895)
Dvořák: Piano Trios Nos 3 & 4
Buy by post £10.50 CDA66895  Last few CD copies remaining  
Movement 1: Lento maestoso – Allegro quasi doppio movimento – Lento maestoso – Allegro
Track 5 on CDA66895 [3'55] Last few CD copies remaining
Movement 2: Poco adagio – Vivace non troppo – Poco adagio – Vivace
Track 6 on CDA66895 [6'16] Last few CD copies remaining
Movement 3: Andante – Vivace non troppo – Andante – Allegretto
Track 7 on CDA66895 [5'47] Last few CD copies remaining
Movement 4: Andante moderato, quasi tempo di marcia – Allegretto scherzando – Tempo I – Allegro – Tempo I
Track 8 on CDA66895 [4'39] Last few CD copies remaining
Movement 5: Allegro
Track 9 on CDA66895 [3'41] Last few CD copies remaining
Movement 6: Lento maestoso – Vivace – Lento – Vivace
Track 10 on CDA66895 [4'30] Last few CD copies remaining

Piano Trio in E minor 'Dumky', Op 90 B166
The ‘Dumkas for piano trio’ were part of this emancipation. Dvorák composed them between November 1890 and 12 February 1891. There was little doubt in the composer’s mind that he was breaking new ground with this work. In writing to his friend Alois Göbl in 1890 he mentioned that his new pieces for violin, cello and piano ‘would be both happy and sad’, a reference to the way in which each movement is built on an alternation of slow and fast sections, the essence of the ‘dumka’ as Dvorák practised it. In doing so he challenged the very essence of the large-scale, conventional trio sustained by sonata structures. The Trio was also different in tone; Dvorák seems to have been set upon creating a work with a popular accent and thus suitable for all kinds of audiences. His efforts paid off; since its first performance in Prague on 11 April 1891, Dvorák’s Trio made of dumkas has been among the most successful of his chamber works.

Despite the novelty of the overall conception, Dvorák still seems to have had at least a vague notion of a four-movement framework for his six dumkas since the first three run together with barely a break. The first dumka epitomizes the nature of a style in which passionate and meditative melody, often song-like in quality, alternate. While Dvorák is prepared to develop his themes in the faster sections, the melody of the slower portions is usually sustained by imaginative instrumentation and ear-catching ornamentation. In the first two dumkas, he wears his heart on his sleeve; the fast passages are intoxicating while the slow have a burning intensity. The third dumka is quite different, simultaneously the simplest and most original of the set. Radiant opening chords introduce a near-vocal main theme whose repetitions are enhanced by subtle transformations before giving way to a wistful central section in the manner of a polka. In the fourth dumka a brisk march is interspersed with a bright ‘Allegretto scherzando’ complemented by ornamentation from the first violin reminiscent of bird song. The penultimate movement is perhaps the most extrovert with a bracing main theme extended and enlivened by almost Beethovenian development. The final number challenges convention still further; the key is now C minor, a third lower than the E minor of the start of the Trio. The musical language in this remarkable concluding movement is full of suppressed tension. Although most of the material is derived from the opening bars, Dvorák sustains the impetus through to a broad peroration which is both grand and tender, reflective and powerful.

from notes by Jan Smaczny © 1996

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Details for CDA66895 track 10
Lento maestoso – Vivace – Lento – Vivace
Recording date
14 May 1996
Recording venue
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Andrew Keener
Recording engineer
Tony Faulkner
Hyperion usage
  1. Dvorαk: Piano Trios Nos 3 & 4 (CDA66895)
    Disc 1 Track 10
    Release date: November 1996
    Last few CD copies remaining
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