Dvorák: Piano Trios, Opp. 90 "Dumky" & 65

Osiris Trio

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Dvorák: Piano Trios, Opp. 90 "Dumky" & 65 Review

by Mike D. Brownell

With four piano trios to his credit, Dvorák's final contribution to the form (the Trio in E minor, Op. 90, "Dumky") largely eclipses the preceding three. The Dumky Trio is an immediately endearing composition, making its extreme popularity among Dvorák's works and piano trios in general quite understanding. The unusual form -- six "movements" instead of four -- and the constant alternation between frenzy and melancholy keeps listeners attentive from start to finish. Add to this Dvorák's penchant for composing soaring melodies, the dynamic interplay between the three instruments, and the exciting rhythmic and harmonic underpinnings, and it's little wonder why this piece is such a star. That is not to say, however, that the earlier trios are not equally enjoyable and worthy of attention. This Cobra Records album includes the Dumky Trio as well as its immediate predecessor, the Trio in F minor, Op. 65. This trio, while more formally predictable, is filled with the emotional response to the death of the composer's mother. Performing here is the Osiris Trio, a Dutch ensemble formed in 1988. Osiris' playing is characterized by a fiery intensity, edgy deep-in-the-string articulation, a broad range of dynamics and tone colors, and a balanced, well-blended sound. The group brings to the fore the prevalent emotional contrasts in the score without allowing it to become overwrought. The execution is technically quite polished save for an occasional questionable note in the first violin. Cobra's recorded sound is present and clear.

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