Guarneri Trio Prague: Čeněk Pavlík, violin; Ivan Klánský, piano; Marek Jerie, violoncello. (source: guarneritrioprague.com)

Guarneri Trio Prague celebrates 35th anniversary with CD of Haydn piano trios

CD REVIEW:
Haydn: Piano Trios
Guarneri Trio Prague (Čeněk Pavlík, violin; Marek Jerie, cello; Ivan Klánský, piano)
Franz Joseph HAYDN: Piano Trio No. 39 in G Major ‘Gypsy’ Hob.XV:25
Franz Joseph HAYDN: Piano Trio No. 44 in E Major Hob.XV:28
Franz Joseph HAYDN: Piano Trio No. 17 in F Major Hob.XV:2
Franz Joseph HAYDN: Piano Trio No. 40 in F Sharp Minor Hob.XV:26
Franz Joseph HAYDN: Piano Trio No. 26 in C Minor Hob.XV:13
Praga Digitals PRD250423
Release Date: June 16, 2023
Format: Audio CD
Duration: 69 minutes

Giorgio Koukl | 2 JUN 2023

In a field where all the existing scores of this album are probably the most frequented of all the repertoires used in recent-world programming, played by any known ensemble, and extremely difficult to approach with a surprisingly new and astonishing version, the Guarneri Trio of Prague (violinist Čeněk Pavlík, cellist Marek Jerie, and pianist Ivan Klánský) following their tradition of “complete” recordings are now releasing this CD. While this certainly is a near-to-impossible task, the result we can listen to is convincing nonetheless.

Praga PRD250423 cover art

Praga PRD250423

Established in Prague in 1986, this trio is now celebrating its 35th anniversary of existence — certainly an achievement in the short-lived ambient of recent ensembles.

Having previously recorded music of Beethoven, Schubert, or Brahms, among many others, there is a certain sense of expectancy as it is difficult and not very well received nowadays to release a CD of an inferior quality of the precedent.

In this sense, the Guarneri Trio delivers what is requested and expected. The classical way to forge the dynamic bows, the way to respond to the minimal rhythmic inputs between the instruments, the perfectly coordinated interplay — all this is very well conceived.

Haydn and his trios is a chapter per se, which would certainly fill a lot of musicological works, maybe not so terribly interesting for a typical concertgoer, but certainly a matter of passionate battles between the aficionados of this or that particular way of interpretations.


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What must be noted first is that we have here only a handful of the prolific Austrian composer’s dozens and dozens of trios.

None of the trios present in this installment is a youthful work of Haydn, a chapter rarely tackled by interpreters, except perhaps for the really “complete” recordings. After all, accomplishing this would require not one CD but at least four or five.

With the piano definitely being the leading instrument of every single Haydn trio, we can concentrate with comfort on the musical capacities of Mr. Klánský.

Once considered an “enfant prodige” in Prague, a former rally pilot, he formed this Guarneri Trio relatively late, but it appears he is still the driving force of the ensemble. His dry and convincingly elegant technique provides enough musically valid material to be definitely above the medium level. Maybe some solutions are slightly “old school”; maybe nobody of the Guarneri musicians is willing to risk a new and fresh approach to such known pieces. But why change something that was working for so many decades?


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The violin of Mr. Čeněk Pavlík, a precious Guarneri instrument (thus the name of the ensemble), is a valid contribution to the overall sound, maybe sometimes lacking a hint of solistical presence, which would have been obtained with ease on a purely sound engineer level.

Mr. Marek Jerie, playing (yes, you are guessing right) another Guarneri instrument, a cello, is damned by how Haydn conceived of it in his trios to be only a support of the piano and its left hand. At least, in most scholars’ view, this is a logical consequence of the too-soft bass part of the pianos of what Haydn could have had in his hands. So doubling these notes is a not-so-grateful task for the cello part, but it has to be said that Mr. Jerie is doing a remarkable job.

Altogether the Guarneri Trio delivers a very convincing result, continuing their traditional style, which will please many without disturbing with extravaganzas.

Certainly, in the field of new interpretations of this so-much-played repertoire, it isn’t easy to express something new, something border-breaking. But at least among the community of Guarneri fans, this recording will find its admirers and followers.

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About the author:
Giorgio Koukl is a Czech-born pianist/harpsichordist and composer who resides in Lugano, Switzerland. Among his many recordings are the complete solo piano works and complete piano concertos of Bohuslav Martinů on the Naxos label. He has also recorded the piano music of Tansman, Lutosławski, Kapralova, and A. Tcherepnin, amongst others, for the Grand Piano label. (photo: Chiara Solari)

Read more by Giorgio Koukl.
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