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Bohemian Trios

Volume I of the Joachims' new Dvorak cycle for Naxos couples the final two of his four surviving piano trios - the heroically big-boned F minor (1883) and the pre-New World sequence of six Slavonic slow/quick lament-dances that make up the Dumky (1890-91). There is no more gloriously autumnal 19th century chamber music than this - supple, melancholic, joyous, the quintessence of Romantic nostalgia and Bohemian psyche, the emotion of middle-European fantasy sounded and painted. Strong competition notwithstanding - Borodin (Chandos), Ax-Kim-Ma (Sony), Beaux Arts (Philips) - the Joachims are a winning formula. You won't find more exquisitely drawn, more painfully beautiful playing anywhere - just sample the faded Schubertian dreams, the bucolic caprice of Track 6. Such intensity and commitment, such interactive chemistry, doesn't come readily in the studio. One shouldn't be suprised, though. Rebecca Hirsch isn't simply a "most gifted" violinist, she's a fabulous musician, of the sweetest, warmest, most perfectly centered tone. Her pliant phrasing and gilded projection is one of the enduring jewels of this album. Caroline Dearnley, living embodiment of Augustus John's Suggia, is in the grand British cello tradition, an artist of eloquent temperament and aristocratic speech. And John Lenehan isn't only an established self-listening, self-integrating chamber pianist, he's a poetically responsive soloist as well - an asset (as Emanuel Ax reminds us) as necessary to this music as being a good partner. Way back in 1988 he won the Alkan Centenary Competition with a keyboard brilliance to match if not dumbfound all those Alkanites and pretenders who've appeared since. Only last September Naxos released his recording of Michael Nyman's Piano Concerto. A special ensemble, then, for an outstandingly distinguished recording supremely produced and engineered. Miss it at your peril.

Dvorak: Piano Trio in F minor, Op 65 (B 130)
13'51"/6'44"/11'14"/9'51" - TT: 41'50"
Dvorak: Dumky, Op 90 (B 166)
4'22"/7'14"/5'55"/5'16"/4'05"/4'50" - TT: 31'42"

Joachim Trio

Recorded: 22, 24-25 April 1996
Venue: St. George's, Brandon Hill, Bristol
Producer/Balance Engineer: John Taylor

Naxos 8.550444 DDD stereo

Liner notes: Keith Anderson (English);
Teresa Pieschacon Raphael (German);
Stephan Perreau (French)


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