Dvorak: Piano Trios No 3 & 4 / Tempest Trio

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DVORÁK Piano Trios Nos. 3 and 4 , “Dumky” Tempest Tr NAXOS 8.573279 (73:03)

Every now and then a new recording of an old and over-recorded warhorse comes along to revive one’s long-dead desire to hear yet another performance of it. Even less often does a new recording come along that convinces you on first hearing that the old gray mare may just be the best horse ever to come out of the stable; translation, the most fantastic performance of the greatest piece of music ever written. Such a recording is the one at hand.

If you’ve never heard of the Tempest Trio—I know I hadn’t before receiving this release—that’s because I believe this is the ensemble’s first recording as a group. But you’re sure to recognize the names of these well-established veteran artists, all with their own distinguished solo careers: They are Ilya Kaler, violin; Amit Peled, cello; and Alon Goldstein, piano; and sometime around 2010 they came together to establish the Tempest Trio. After only a few seasons performing as a trio throughout the U.S., Europe, Israel, and Asia, the ensemble has been compared to the legendary “Million Dollar Trio” of Heifetz, Piatigorsky, and Rubinstein.

One can argue the merits of such a comparison, but one can’t argue the results achieved by the Tempest’s players. What immediately grabbed my attention were not just their hair-trigger rhythmic reactions, their technical prowess, their sublimated responsiveness to each other’s phrasing and dynamics, their refulgent tone, and their radiant vibrancy, but also their refreshing take on certain details of interpretation.

For example, in the “Dumky” Trio’s third dumka, there’s a section marked Vivace non troppo , and beginning 33 bars into that section, the violin has a figure in which the last three notes of each bar are two 16ths and an eighth. Only on the first occurrence in that first bar of the passage, however, are the two 16th notes marked with those little spiccato dots in the Simrock first edition. But Kaler applies them throughout the passage, using a ricochet technique to bounce his bow off the string on each occurrence of those two 16th notes. It makes the line stand out like I’ve never heard it before, and it makes for the perfect evocation of Dvorák’s ruddy-faced, slightly tipsy Czech peasants kicking up their heels.

The Tempest Trio even managed to hold my attention all the way through the overlong, somewhat digressive Third Piano Trio in F Minor, a work regarded by some as a milestone in Dvorák’s output. As a result of too many dull performances I’ve heard of the piece, I’d be tempted to call it a millstone. But the Tempest really brings it to life. I’m not quite sure how they do it, but the players manage to enliven the turgid writing in a way that lightens the textures and gives free vent to the melodic flow.

This is a serious candidate for my annual Want List, and I would urge you with special pleading to acquire this release for what may well be the best Dvorák “Dumky” on disc ever. I would also urge Naxos with special pleading to engage the Tempest Trio in recording the whole of the mainstream piano trio literature as soon as possible.

FANFARE: Jerry Dubins

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: 8573279

  • UPC: 747313327973

  • Label: Naxos

  • Composer: Antonín Dvořák

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Tempest Trio

  • Performer: Alon Goldstein, Amit Peled, Ilya Kaler