Smetana Trio Zemlinsky, Rachmaninov, Arensky: Piano Trios.
Smetana Trio Zemlinsky, Rachmaninov, Arensky: Piano Trios Smetana Trio
(Jitka Cechova - piano, Radim Kresta - violin, Jan Palenicek - cello).
Produced by: Matous Vlcinsky.
Text: CZ, EN, GE, FR. Recorded:
2018, Studio Martinek, Prague.
Published: 2019. TT: 73:40. DDD.
1 CD Supraphon SU 4258-2.
On Tuesday the 23rd of April 2019, the Smetana Trio launched its newest recording in Prague's Church of St Lawrence on Hellichova Street, featuring three piano trios by three neo-Romantic composers: Anton Arensky, Alexander Zemlinsky, and Sergei Rachmaninov. This is the tenth project by the Smetana Trio on the best known Czech label, Suprahon, and it is also the first recording which the trio has made with its new member Radim Kresta, who replaced Jiri Vodicka at the violin chair last spring. All three trios were composed at the end of the 19th century in the narrow space between 1892 and 1896, and they are all in minor keys. The first piece on the disk is the three-movement Piano Trio in D Minor op. 3 by Alexander Zemlinsky - the most grave, dramatic, and compositionally complex of the three works on the CD. It is followed by the darkened single-movement Trio eiegiaque No. 1 in G minor (1892) by Sergei Rachmaninov, which despite its somewhat more lucid instrumental textures tails closely behind the first piece in terms of expressive weight. It is only the last movement, Anton Arensky's Piano Trio no. 1 in D Minor op. 32, that brings light and peace to this disc. It presents music of a generally lyrical character, sometimes almost reminiscent of salon music. We have had multiple occasions to learn that Romantic works are dear to the Smetana Trio, and this recording only confirms this - it seems to be bursting with emotion. They rush to us from the first movement of the Zemlinsky in large, immensely effective agogic and dynamic waves which rise suggestively in gradients so tense and riveting one almost cannot breathe. The ensemble is enormously in sync, which is why it can allow itself to work completely freely with rubatos and time. In tutti passages, they achieve almost orchestral sounds and colours, in lyrical sections, the artists move us their gentle sensitivity, and in the solos, their cantilena often sounds almost like the human voice. We shouldn't even have to mention the performers' impeccable technique: the recording offers numerous brilliantly played passages whose difficulty is akin to the most demanding solo concerti. Listeners that enjoy grand Romantic emotions should certainly not miss this CD. After all - I am not alone in my interest in this recording: it won the Smetana Trio the prestigious BBC Music Magazine Chamber Choice in June 2019.