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Track(s) taken from CDA67572

Elegy in D flat major, Op 23

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)

The Florestan Trio
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

Cover artwork: Autumn (1912) by Franz Dvorák (1862-1927)
Private Collection; reproduced by kind permission of the copyright holders, Whitford & Hughes, UK / Bridgeman Art Library, London


'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' (Classics Today)

'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)
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

La splendide Élégie, op. 23 (1902) fut écrite en commémoration de la vie de Julius Zeyer (1841–1901), auteur de romans et de poèmes épiques enracinés dans l’histoire et les légendes de Bohême. Son influence sur Suk, la plus importante après celle de Dvorák, fut d’autant plus forte qu’elle était associée aux années les plus heureuses de la vie du jeune compositeur: celles de son mariage avec Otilie. En 1897–8, Suk écrivit une musique de scène pour le conte de fées dramatique de Zeyer, Radúz a Mahulena, dont une suite devint populaire. Deux ans plus tard, Zeyer demanda à Suk une musique pour sa nouvelle pièce, Pod jabloní («Sous les pommiers»).

L’Élégie est sous-titrée «Sous l’impression du Vyšehrad de Zeyer», du nom d’un poème épique (1880) qui se déroule dans l’antiquité tchèque, Vyšehrad étant l’ancienne forteresse érigée sur un rocher en surplomb du fleuve, à Prague, et dont la figure domine les légendes nationales tchèques (elle avait déjà donné son nom à la première pièce du cycle orchestral de Smetana, Má vlast, en 1875). Originellement composée pour une combinaison inhabituelle—un sextuor à cordes avec harpe et harmonium—, elle fut réécrite pour trio avec piano. Si la harpe et l’harmonium véhiculaient une vision romantique de l’antiquité, la version pour trio avec piano permet au riche lyrisme de Suk de se donner pleine carrière. Une phrase languissante est reprise et développée par le violon et par le violoncelle. S’ensuit une brève interruption enflammée, avant le retour de la mélodie. Une seconde interruption salue le grand mentor de Suk, Dvorák, par un clin d’œil à l’opéra Rusalka, alors tout récent, puis la mélodie chemine jusqu’à une paisible conclusion.

extrait des notes rédigées par Robert Philip © 2008
Français: Hypérion

Die von 1902 stammende wunderschöne Elegie op. 23 wurde für eine Andachtsfeier komponiert, die das Leben von Julius Zeyer (1841–1901) würdigte. Zeyer war Autor von Novellen und epischen Gedichten, die von der Geschichte und den Legenden Böhmens handelten. Sein Einfluss auf Suk kam gleich nach Dvoráks und wurde noch durch die Assoziation mit Suks glücklichsten Lebensjahren zur Zeit seiner Heirat mit Otilie verstärkt. 1897–8 komponierte Suk eine Schauspielmusik für Zeyers dramatisches Märchen Radúz a Mahulena, die Suite daraus wurde sehr erfolgreich. Zwei Jahre später bat Zeyer Suk um die Komposition von Musik für sein neues Schauspiel Pod jabloní (Unter den Apfelbäumen).

Die Elegie trägt den Untertitel „Unter dem Eindruck von Zeyers Vyšehrad“. Das ist ein 1880 geschriebenes episches Gedicht, dessen Handlung sich in sehr alter tschechischer Geschichte abspielt, als Vyšehrad eine uralte Festung auf einem Felsen war, der Ausblick auf den Fluss in Prag gestattete. Diese Festung nimmt in tschechischer Folklore einen wichtigen Platz ein (sie lieferte schon den Titel für die erste sinfonische Dichtung in Smetanas Orchesterzyklus Má vlast von 1875). Die Elegie wurde ursprünglich für die ungewöhnliche Kombination aus Streichsextett, Harfe und Harmonium komponiert, später aber für Klaviertrio bearbeitet. Wo die Harfe und das Harmonium dem Stück ein romantisches Gefühl von etwas Altertümlichem verliehen haben mögen, unterstrich die Fassung für Klaviertrio Suks üppige Liedhaftigkeit. Eine sehnsuchtsvolle Geste wird von der Violine und dem Violoncello wiederholt und weitergeführt. Es gibt eine kurze, leidenschaftliche Unterbrechung, bevor die Melodie erneut erklingt. Eine zweite Unterbrechung verweist auf Suks großen Mentor Dvorák mit einer flüchtigen Bezugnahme auf eine musikalische Phrase aus dessen kurz zuvor komponierter Oper Rusalka. Dann schlängelt sich die Melodie zu einem friedvollen Abschluss.

aus dem Begleittext von Robert Philip © 2008
Deutsch: Elke Hockings

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