Trio Carlo Van Neste

Dvorák: Dumky Trio, Op. 90; Smetana: Piano Trio, Op. 15

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Ever hear the sarcastic mantra "anything worth doing is worth overdoing"? It would appear that the Trio Carlo Van Neste -- which got its name via a rather circuitous route after the previous ensemble with that name changed titles -- holds this philosophy near and dear. From the opening of Dvorák's Op. 90 "Dumky" Trio, the initial impression is one of exciting and distinct contrasts. These contrasts -- whether they come in the form of mode changes, tempo distinctions, or textures -- are at the very heart of what makes for a good Dumky performance. But like a dessert that's a little too sweet and rich, Trio Carlo Van Neste's constant over exaggeration of every ritardando and every glissando quickly becomes saccharine. The openings of five out of six movements that begin with slow tempos are almost ponderously deliberate, even the two middle movements that are only marked Andante. Their performance of Smetana's Op. 15 Piano Trio, which is also replete with contrasting sections, is much less overstated than the Dvorák, although there is still a tendency to repeatedly make too much out of every small little gesture written into the score. Apart from the musical interpretation, the Trio's sound is generally well-balanced and intonation is acceptable (though sometimes sharp in the violin). Still, listeners may find slightly more understated performances of these two works preferable.

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