Antonín Dvořák: Piano Trio No 3 in F minor - Shaham Erez Wallfisch Trio. © 2023 Wyastone Estate Limited

CD Spotlight

Contrasting Moods

GEOFF PEARCE is impressed by Dvořák from the Shaham Erez Wallfisch Trio

'All three performers ... do full justice to the works they are presenting here ...'


This very fine disc of music by Antonín Dvořák features the third Piano Trio, the violin sonatina and three Slavonic Dances arranged by Fritz Kreisler, all of which are performed by the Shaham Erez Wallfisch Trio which was formed in 2009.

The Third Piano Trio is an important Dvořák chamber work and remains a favourite amongst concert goers. Particularly in the outer two movements, it owes quite a lot to Brahms, who was an important mentor to Dvořák. It was composed in 1883 and is in four movements.

The first movement has a lot of contrasting moods, is quite restless in nature and gives ample opportunities for all the performers to shine. It is the longest and most complex of the movements.

Listen — Dvořák: Allegro ma non troppo (Piano Trio, Op 65)
(NI5952 track 1, 4:20-5:10) ℗ 2023 Wyastone Estate Limited :

The second movement, strong and lively, is a Furiant and there are strongly accented cross rhythms with all the fire that Dvořák utilised when he employed the same dance in some of his symphonies. The trio is contrasting to the more muscular Scherzo. The composer’s individual characteristics are unmistakable.

Listen — Dvořák: Allegretto grazioso (Piano Trio, Op 65)
(NI5952 track 2, 5:13-5:58) ℗ 2023 Wyastone Estate Limited :

The third movement, quite a contrast to the two earlier rather stormy movements, is tender and serene. Some commentators have remarked that perhaps the composer is reflecting on the recent death of his mother, remembering her with affection. This could well be the case. There is a veiled sadness and nostalgia here, as well as a rather impassioned middle section which melts into the most beautiful melody of exquisite sweetness, at first announced on the violin.

Listen — Dvořák: Poco adagio (Piano Trio, Op 65)
(NI5952 track 3, 3:44-4:26) ℗ 2023 Wyastone Estate Limited :

The final movement has a drive and restless quality at first, driven by a passionate Furiant that is contrasted with a waltz later. Structurally it is quite complex, and the moods are constantly shifting. There are some rather interesting developments towards the end, with the restating of the main first movement theme, a slightly reflective final section recalling the feeling of the slow movement, then a final flourish, ending the work in F major.

Listen — Dvořák: Allegro con brio (Piano Trio, Op 65)
(NI5952 track 3, 9:21-10:05) ℗ 2023 Wyastone Estate Limited :

The Sonatina for Violin and Piano was the very first work for this combination that I ever heard as a boy, and I was entranced. It has remained one of my favourite Dvořák pieces. There are many fine recordings. It was written with the composer's two children in mind. It is his Opus 100 and was written in 1993 in New York. It is in four movements. There are characteristics that are immediately recognisable in many of his 'American' works, with considerable inspiration drawn from Negro spirituals and Indian melodies. This flavour is unmistakable here, and it radiates joy, as does this performance. The second movement is nostalgic, perhaps reflecting the composer missing his homeland.

Listen — Dvořák: Larghetto (Sonatina Op 100)
(NI5952 track 6, 2:36-3:25) ℗ 2023 Wyastone Estate Limited :

The happy dance-like third movement dispels any sadness from the previous movement.

This lightness of mood and vivacity is definitely continued in the last movement, but there is also a moment of sadness that intrudes occasionally, and there's also a snatch that sounds like a melody used more extensively in the Largo movement of the New World Symphony, before the dance-like opening recurs to finish this movement on a positive and happy note.

Listen — Dvořák: Finale (Sonatina Op 100)
(NI5952 track 8, 3:00-3:49) ℗ 2023 Wyastone Estate Limited :

Fritz Kreisler met Dvořák in 1903 and later arranged quite a few of Dvořák’s shorter works, sometimes giving them a different title to help sell them. Dvořák’s widow was helped financially with the proceeds of some of these.

The first on this disc is the Opus 46 No 2, with some delightful unmissably Kreisler reworkings, but these are done tastefully and with considerable flair. This is the most daring of the arrangements.

Listen — Dvořák arr Kreisler: Op 46 No 2 (Slavonic Dances)
(NI5952 track 9, 1:52-2:33) ℗ 2023 Wyastone Estate Limited :

Op 72 No 2 is, as the booklet notes point out, very faithful to the original whereas the last one here, Op 72 No 8, departs considerably, but perhaps not as much as in the first one.

Listen — Dvořák arr Kreisler: Op 72 No 8 (Slavonic Dances)
(NI5952 track 11, 2:25-3:12) ℗ 2023 Wyastone Estate Limited :

All three performers - Hagai Shaham, Arnon Erez and Raphael Wallfisch - are well known and respected. They do full justice to the works they are presenting here, and I am sure that this disc will have a strong attraction to any lovers of Dvořák’s chamber music. This is a disc to savour.

Copyright © 24 May 2023 Geoff Pearce,
Sydney, Australia



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