The Strad issue
More delicacy than indulgence in Romantic piano trios from a Czech ensemble
Petrof Piano Trio
Lalo, Bruch, Mendelssohn
Cellist Kamil Žvak gets several opportunities to demonstrate his gentle, lyrical skills in Lalo’s C minor Trio, opening the first and last movements with understated finesse and introducing the slow-movement melody with beauty and authority. Violinist Jan Schulmeister is equally felicitous in his turn. The scherzo is delightfully played, light and flowing, and in the finale the players demonstrate a masterly command of scale, negotiating its emotional turbulence with a prevailing sense of delicacy.
There is a similar sense of passion held in check in Bruch’s Trio, the work of a Romantic 19-year-old in C minor mode (again). All three players have a fine way with rhetorical gestures, but this is a fundamentally lyrical performance, flowing forward through Bruch’s generous melodies without undue indulgence.
Žvak opens Mendelssohn’s D minor Trio as well, with a spacious account of the opening melody. As the movement progresses the three of them work up a good head of steam, driven by the urgent playing of pianist Martina Schulmeisterová, who also sets the tone nicely for the elegant Andante. They eschew the hectic pace of others in the last two movements, opting for Leggiero more than Vivace in the scherzo and bringing nobility as well as passion to the finale. The recorded sound is warm and full.