The Busch Trio Records Dvořák

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DVOŘÁK: Piano Trios Nos. 1 & 2 / Busch Trio / Alpha 466

I missed the first CD in this series, which oddly enough contained the next two trios, Nos. 3 and 4, but since I knew those works pretty well from the superb recordings on Bridge by Trio Solisti I wanted to hear how Busch played these earlier trios.

The Busch Trio is occasionally dreamy in the soft passages of the first movement but brisk and crisp in the fast ones. This in itself is fine; I always appreciate lively, wide-awake performances of anything, but I felt they were just a shade inflexible in phrasing. Nonetheless, these readings are very much in the Czech tradition, which is forward and energetic and, as I say, the Busch Trio does not run roughshod over the more delicate moments although, to my ears, the contrasts they make seem just a bit extreme. It’s almost like being in soft moonlight one moment and pulled under the bright glare of a neon light the next.

If Trio Solisti had recorded these works (which they haven’t) there’s a chance that I might have found a bit more subtlety without lack of energy. Still, in such moments as the slow movement of the first trio, the Busch group’s elegance and sensitivity make a fine impression, and in the “Allegretto scherzando” they find exactly the right balance between energy and a bit of schmaltz.

Their performance of the first movement of the second trio seemed to me more balanced in mood, dynamics and tempo. Their phrasing is smoother and their transitions from soft to loud and back again more balanced and well-judged. In this movement, then, their interpretation is excellent. I found their approach to the sonata as a whole more consistent stylistically.

All in all, then, a really outstanding disc despite my reservations about the first movement of the first trio.

—© 2019 Lynn René Bayley

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