Dvořák’s Greatest Chamber Work? Three Young Musicians Make the Case

United KingdomUnited Kingdom Haydn, Janáček, and Dvořák: Juho Pohjonen (piano), Karen Gomyo (violin), Christian Poltéra (cello), Perelman Theater, Kimmel Center, Philadelphia, 9.3.2016 (BJ)

Haydn: Piano Trio in E major, Hob. XV :28
Janáček: Pohádka, for cello and piano; Violin Sonata
Dvořák: Piano Trio in F minor, Op. 65

A passionate and rich-toned account of what is perhaps Dvořák’s greatest chamber work formed a rousing conclusion to this enjoyable Philadelphia Chamber Music Society concert. It was preceded before intermission by a relaxed and sufficiently stylish performance of Haydn’s irrepressibly tuneful E-major Trio, after which, in two Janáček pieces respectively showcasing the cello and the violin, the performers vividly captured the composer’s characteristic blend of the deeply serious with the refreshingly quirky.

Emanuel Ax and Pamela Frank just the previous evening may have been a hard act to follow, but in that challenging context all three of these young musicians demonstrated technical skill and artistic talent not to be sneezed at. Juho Pohjonen’s piano playing was full of color and imagination: he was discreet when appropriate, and impressively incisive, without harshness, when the instrument was called on to take the textural lead. Cellist Christian Poltéra’s warmly eloquent and cleanly focused tone furnished a firm foundation for the ensemble sonority. And Karen Gomyo is a highly gifted violinist. (I wish, by the way, that artists’ alleged program biographies—usually mere career-ographies—would actually tell us where they come from. That Ms. Gomyo was born in Japan and subsequently moved to North America is a fact I am glad to be possessed of, and I shouldn’t have to Google her to discover it.) I did feel that she occasionally pressed her line a little hard, producing some fierce notes that stuck out obtrusively, but her tone was otherwise delectable, her intonation spot on, and her phrasing admirably expressive.

Bernard Jacobson

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