Wednesday 15 October 2014

As fine a collection of piano trio performances you could wish for from the Petrof Piano Trio on a new release from Nimbus of works by Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Mendelssohn

The Petrof Piano Trio was created in 2009 by Wihan Quartet violinist, Jan Schulmeister. The members, that also include Martina Schulmeisterová (piano) and Kamil Žvak (cello), are renowned chamber-music players and bring to the ensemble over thirty years’ experience of concert activity.

In the same year as it was formed, the ensemble became the Resident Trio of the Petrof Piano Company. Since 2011 they have been the Resident Trio at the International Chamber Music Course in Zábřeh na Moravě in the Czech Republic.

The Trio gave the world premiere of Janáček ́s “Kreutzer ́s Sonata”, arranged for the Trio by the leading Czech musicologist, Miloš Štědroňat, at the international music festival in Kroměříž in September 2014.

Following the Trio’s last CD release for Nimbus Alliance , with trios by Mendelssohn, Bruch and Lalo, they have now released a recording on that label of Beethoven’s ‘Ghost’ Trio and Tchaikovsky’s Piano Trio in A minor coupled with three arrangements of Mendelssohn: Songs without Words.

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The Petrof Piano Trio grab the listener’s attention straight away in the Allegro con brio of Beethoven’s Piano Trio in D minor ‘Ghost’ Op.70, No.1 with playing that is taut, dynamic and urgent. They are fully alive to every dynamic and nuance.

The Petrof’s lyrical, poetic side, that was glimpsed in the Allegro, is fully revealed in the Largo assai ed espressivo where the Trio draw much fine expression. There is a beautiful balance between piano and strings in some exquisitely hushed passages, rising to moments of intense passion. It is terrific how they slowly build the emotions before easing back.

The Presto brings a lively dialogue between the players with moments of fine, incisive playing. This Trio show some terrific ensemble before the decisive coda.

This is a particularly fine ‘Ghost’ Trio displaying layers of emotion often not revealed.

With the Pezzo elegiac of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Trio in A minor, Op.50 the Petrof’s open beautifully with a broad, rolling sweep before the lovely main theme emerges. There is a lovely building in dynamics with all of Tchaikovsky’s intricate writing showing through. The music rises in great passion with these players drawing out the many moods. Centrally there is an exquisite section as the main theme is slowly, gently and passionately revealed in its lovely variation, quite beautifully played before rising to a direct and passionate sequence, beautifully controlled as it falls back to the lovely coda.

There is a gloriously played opening to the Tema con Variazioni from Martina Schulmeisterová, beautifully phrased and poised before the gently rolling theme appears and is taken through its twelve variations. There are some lovely passages from string players, Jan Schulmeister and Kamil Žvak, often full of intense emotion and really bringing the music alive. In the rhythmic sections these players provide some fine playing, responding so well to each other. As we are led into the Variazioni Finale e Coda these players really throw themselves into the fast and furious passages, bringing joy before slowing for the massive coda where they bring great power to the restated theme before the quiet coda.

The Petrof Piano Trio conclude this recording with three arrangements of Mendelssohn: Songs without Words by Jakub Kowalewski (b.1977), acting as attractive encores. There is a lovely rocking motion to the attractive arrangement Allegro con anima, op.62 No. 4 with opening and closing pizzicato strings, a simple yet attractive arrangement of Un poco agitato, ma andante, Op.101 No.4 with the strings taking the melody and the well known Andante con moto, Op.19 No.1 with the violin and cello sharing the melody over a piano accompaniment with a lovely sweep and flow.

This is as fine a collection of piano trio performances you could wish for. The recording from the Sound Studio HAMU, Prague is first rate and there are informative notes from the trio’s violinist Jan Schulmeister.

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