Wednesday 7 May 2014

An exceptionally fine debut disc from the Sitkovetsky Trio in works by Dvořák, Smetana and Suk on a new release from BIS

The Sitkovetsky Trio are first prize winners of the International Commerzbank Chamber Music Award 2008 and recipients of the NORDMETALL Chamber Music Award at the Mecklenburg Vorpommern Festival 2009. They have won the Philharmonia-Martin Chamber Music Award, the Kirckman Society Award, the Tillett Trust, and are supported by the Hattori Foundation, the Fidelio Trust, the Music Benevolent Fund and the Swiss Global Artistic Foundation.

The members of the Trio, Alexander Sitkovetsky (violin) , Leonard Elschenbroich (cello) , Wu Qian (piano) met and worked together at the Yehudi Menuhin School. They founded the trio in 2007 and have held the Junior Fellowship at the Royal Academy of Music 2007-2008, and from 2008-2010, the trio were recipients of the Golubovich Fellowship and the Richard Cairnes Junior Fellowship for Chamber Music at the Trinity College of Music resulting in many performances and educational worships at the College and across London.

They made their highly successful Southbank debut, playing a recital in the Purcell Room, and were invited to play in front of Her Majesty the Queen in London. They made their debut appearance at the Wigmore Hall in November 2008 and another recital there in May 2009 as part of the Kirckman Society's award and have given recitals at various Festivals throughout the UK and abroad, in venues such as King’s Lynn, Brighton, St. George’s Bristol, the Alte Oper in Frankfurt, the Mecklenburg Vorpommern Festival, the Bath Mozartfest, the Chamber hall of the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels. The trio also performed the Beethoven Triple on tour with the Orchestra of the Swan and the Munchen Symphoniker in November 2009 and again in 2010.

The trio have performed at the Wigmore Hall's Coffee Concert series and was immediately re-invited for an evening recital as well as another Coffee Concert. In 2011-2012, the trio held a three concert residency at the King's Place in London, another three concert residency at the Kettle's Yard in Cambridge as well as a re-invitation to Bath's Mozartfest. They were Trio in Residence at the Mecklenburg Vorpommern Festival's Chamber Music week and performed the Beethoven Triple there in the summer of 2012 with the Konzerthaus Orchester Berlin.

The trio has been broadcast several times by BBC Radio 3 including on the In Tune Program and the Lunchtime Concerts series.

The Sitkovetsky Trio now make their recording debut with BIS Records  in performances of Dvořák’s Piano Trio No.3 in F minor, Op.65, Smetana’s Piano Trio in G minor, Op.15 and Suk’s Elegy for Piano Trio, Op.23.

BIS - 2059
Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904) wrote his Piano Trio No.3 in F minor, Op.65 in 1883 and it was premiered at Mlada Boleslav in Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) in October that year with Dvořák taking the piano part.

The Sitkovetsky Trio bring a singing quality to the opening of the Allegro ma non troppo – Poco più mosso, quasi vivace and is full of lovely textures. The music quickly rises in drama with playing that is full of fire, bringing a constant changeability of mood. The second subject has an underlying feel of tension and, when the music falls to a hushed sequence, there is some exquisitely fine playing. Yet, it is the feeling of a constantly shifting turbulence that marks out this performance. There is a terrific sense of assurance from these players in the broader sweeping passages.

There is some fine phrasing together with subtle attention to the dynamics of the music in the Allegretto grazioso – Meno mosso with a lovely, singing trio section with some limpid piano playing from Wu Qian. Alexander Sitkovetsky and Leonard Elschenbroich each provide some lovely passages with fine, crisp, incisive playing towards the end.

The Sitkovetsky Trio bring all of their emotional depth to the Poco adagio, lavishing much care and sensitivity. There are some especially beautiful sounds as the piano blends perfectly with the strings creating lovely textures. Occasionally they relax the music to great effect. There is an exquisite coda.

The fast moving Allegro con brio – tranquillo highlights the Trio’s fine ensemble as these artists pull out all the stops in a performance of great passion. The lovely second subject with its rolling waltz melody is finely done and there is a particularly fine coda where the waltz melody returns only to be overtaken by a dynamic conclusion.

This is a very fine, heartfelt performance from these players.

Bedřich Smetana’s (1824-1884) Piano Trio in G minor, Op.15 dates from 1855 and was premiered in December that year in Prague. However, Smetana revised the work in which form it was performed in Gothenberg in Sweden in 1858. Smetana continued to revise the work before its publication in 1880 in which form it is performed here.

A passionate violin theme opens the Moderato assai before the cello and piano join, with this Trio providing much grit, passion and feeling. Elschenbroich provides some beautiful, rich cello tones and there is an exquisite quiet passage before the music slowly speeds with tremendous playing from this Trio. These players put so much drama and passion into this music, quite breath-taking at times, with a formidable coda.

The Trio reveal their fine accuracy in the nimble Allegro, ma non agitato with their lovely singing tone, in the trio section, shared between the string players. There is such fine control and phrasing with, as the music develops in intensity, the Sitkovetsky Trio revealing the darker side to this music.

There is superb playing in the wonderfully fast moving Finale. Presto – Grave, quasi Marcia and, when the slow section, arrives these players respond with care and sensitivity with Sitkovetsky and Elschenbroich sharing the melody. Soon these players hurtle off as the Presto returns in playing of such impetuosity, passion and bravura that contrasts remarkably with the slower, more melancholy section. There are some pretty strong textures towards the end before a fine coda.

This is a particularly strong performance from these fine players.

It is many of the same qualities of that this Trio bring to Josef Suk’s (1874-1935) Elegy for Piano Trio, Op.23 written, in 1902, in memory of Julius Zeyer (1841-1901) a Czech writer for whom Suk wrote the music for his mythological drama Radúz and Mahulena in 1897- 98.  It opens with a lovely melody for violin over a restrained piano part, soon joined by the cello. These players respond so finely to each other, slowly building a finely controlled passion and revealing this piece as a little gem. There are so many fine nuances and details before the hushed coda.

This is an exceptionally fine debut disc from the Sitkovetsky Trio in performances that will hold their own amongst the best. 

The recording from Potton Hall, Suffolk, England couldn’t be better and there are excellent booklet notes.

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