The Gould Piano Trio in Czech Chamber Music

07/04/2012

United KingdomUnited Kingdom  Dvořák, Janáček: Gould Piano Trio, Wigmore Hall, London. 3.4.2012 (RB)

Dvořák: Piano Trio in G minor Op 26 (1876)
Janáček: String Quartet No. 1 ‘Kreutzer Sonata’ (1923) arr. Korber for piano trio
Dvořák: Piano Trio in E minor Op 90 (1890-91)

The Gould Piano Trio is currently recording Dvořák’s complete piano trios so it was interesting to hear at first hand their interpretations of two of his four piano trios, together with the fascinating transcription by Till Alexander Korber of Janáček’s First String Quartet.

The G minor trio was written immediately after the death of Dvořák’s two-day-old daughter, Josefa, and there is a pervasive darkness of mood although it still benefits from Dvořák’s natural gift for melody. The Goulds allowed the expressive melodies to unfold naturally and organically in the opening ‘allegro moderato’ and there was a nice sense of balance and space between the three players and variety of musical textures. Occasionally, I would have liked greater fullness and richness of tone from Alice Neary’s cello although the cello solo which opened the second movement largo was highly expressive and exquisitely shaped. The Beethovenian scherzo was played with urgency and vibrancy while there was superb filigree playing from Benjamin Frith’s piano in the trio section. The finale was tightly organised and there was excellent interplay between all three players with the Goulds relishing the harmonic and textural richness of the music.

Janáček’s two string quartets are among the most original works in the whole of the classical repertoire, and this arrangement for piano trio of the first quartet was commissioned by the Merlin Ensemble Vienna and Beethovenfest Bonn, and given its world première in 2004. I was not completely convinced by this transcription although it is useful to introduce Janáček’s fascinating work to the wider musical public through another medium. The Goulds captured the nervous restlessness of the opening movement although there was a little too much of a polished drawing room feeling about this performance, and I was not always convinced they captured the edginess and rawness of the music. The Goulds brought out well the ironic and playful elements of the second movement polka, while the exchanges in the third movement were razor sharp and interjections highly dramatic and effective. Lucy Gould brought out wonderfully the soaring violin line of the finale and there was superb rapport and coordination in managing the tempo and textural fluctuations.

The concert concluded with Dvořák’s ever-popular ‘Dumky’ trio which was originally conceived as an experimental work consisting of six separate Dumka. The opening was passionate and purposeful although I would have preferred a little more breadth in the treatment of this material. The melodies in the violin and cello were soulful and heartfelt while the folk elements were full of verve in the fast sections. There was a wonderful warmth from the cellist in the opening of the second movement and exquisite lyricism and intimacy from the pianist. The Goulds brought out superbly the harmonic and textural richness of the third movement while the violinist and pianist nailed perfectly the rhythmic subtlety in the fourth movement. The light passage work from the pianist in the fifth movement was superbly executed although I did not think the balance was always completely right in the canon. There was passionate and charged playing from all three players in the finale, bringing the concert to a triumphant conclusion. Overall, I thought this was an excellent performance of one of the great works of the chamber music repertoire, although on occasion I would like the Goulds to be a little less reined in and constrained in their handling of the folk elements in the music.

I was pleased to see the Goulds receiving highly enthusiastic applause from the audience who were rewarded with a performance of Suk’s ‘Elegy’ – a highly suitable night cap to this all Czech programme.

Robert Beattie

Comments

Comments are closed.

Recent Reviews

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • UPDATED ONLINE NEWS! IMPACT OF CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) PANDEMIC __________________________________
  • NEW! BBC Proms turns 125 years old – 17 July to 12 September 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera North in 2020-2021 – postponements and plans __________________________________
  • NEW! Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Glyndebourne Festival Opera opens for a 2020 summer season __________________________________
  • NEW! Baritone Federico Longhi’s Rigoletto is part of Parma’s June Verdian renaissance __________________________________
  • NEW! 69th Wexford Festival Opera – 11 to 18 October 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Dresden’s Semperoper reopens with Anna Netrebko on 19 June __________________________________
  • NEW! Berlin’s Pierre Boulez Saal in 2020-21 __________________________________
  • NEW! LMP’s first UK chamber orchestra performances since Covid-19 struck __________________________________
  • NEW! Oxford Lieder Festival – 10-17 October 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Metropolitan Opera (2020–)2021 season update __________________________________
  • NEW! Royal Opera House announces first live concert since beginning of lockdown __________________________________
  • NEW! Semi-staged Das Rheingold on Deutsche Oper Berlin’s parking deck from 12 June __________________________________
  • NEW! A breath of fresh air: Opera Holland Park announces 2021 season __________________________________
  • NEW! Grange Park Opera’s 2020 Found Season – 4 June to 12 July __________________________________
  • UPDATED! 2020 Salzburg Festival – 1 to 30 August __________________________________
  • NEW! English Music Festival’s 2020 online series of concerts and talks __________________________________
  • The Singapore Symphony in 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Free Review Summary Newsletter

    Search S&H

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! We’ll be back! The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra weathering the Covid-19 storm __________________________________
  • NEW! World Ballet School Day – inaugural edition 7 July 2020 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Longborough Festival Opera launches podcast and extraordinary generosity of the audience __________________________________
  • NEW! The Music Critics Association of North America Best New Opera Award to Blue __________________________________
  • NEW! Lincoln Center honors Pride with a light installation on its iconic plaza __________________________________
  • R.I.P. Dame Vera Lynn (1917-2020): Did we really need Vera Lynn during the war? __________________________________
  • NEW! What price Sherlock Holmes? __________________________________
  • NEW! BBC to show the ROH’s first post-lockdown performance and their other recent music news __________________________________
  • NEW! Woody Allen comes back fighting with a book and A Rainy Day in New York __________________________________
  • NEW! Educating Rita, says who? __________________________________
  • NEW! 2020 Three Choirs Festival – postponed __________________________________
  • NEW! ACCOMPANIST OR PARTNER? PIANIST SUSIE ALLAN IN CONVERSATION WITH JOHN QUINN __________________________________
  • NEW! Need to escape reality? Enter into the magical world of composer David Hertzberg __________________________________
  • NEW! BTHVN2020 – Beethoven anniversary goes into overtime __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month