John Damgaard / Tutter Givskov / Harro Ruisenaars

Brahms, Dvorák: Trios for Piano, Violin & Cello

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AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell

Brahms completed the initial score for his First Piano Trio, Op. 8 -- in the uncommon key of B major -- in 1854. After he returned to the genre again more than two decades later, Brahms set about making major revisions to the B major trio producing the version that is well-known today. Brahms' influence on piano trio repertoire can be heard in the trios of Dvorák. Though the Op. 90 "Dumky" Trio is more frequently performed, the Third Piano Trio in F minor, Op. 65, is arguably the more sophisticated, intricate younger sibling. Pianist John Damgaard, violinist Tutter Givskov, and cellist Harro Ruijsenaars perform these two trios on this Scandinavian Classics album. The three artists do not make up a long-standing ensemble, a plainly obvious fact to listeners. The trio struggles to find a homogenous, blended sound, instead seeming more like three individual artists who happen to be playing at the same time. Intonation in the strings is spotty at best, and the violin in particular produces an often forced, pressured sound that results in crunched notes or pitches that don't even speak at all. With such basic, blatant, pervasive flaws, listeners are left with no real reason to choose this recording over one of the countless superior alternatives available of these two cornerstones of the chamber music literature.

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