Guarneri Trio, Prague
December 12 2019
Review: William Ruff
Piano trio playing doesn’t get better than this
There may be only three members of the Guarneri Trio of Prague but their other statistics are impressively large. Add their ages together and you get 207 – which is a lot of musical experience, wisdom and insight. And after 33 years of playing together they communicate almost telepathically. Moreover, Thursday night’s concert was their 19th at Lakeside in the 25 years of the venue’s existence. The silver anniversary celebrations just wouldn’t be complete without such admired and loyal friends.
They brought core repertoire with them. The first half was Czech music, starting with Josef Suk’s Elégie, a beautifully lyrical work written to commemorate Julius Zeyer, a Czech poet and novelist. It is music which movingly speaks of loss and suggests the writer’s imaginative intensity. The Guarneri Trio captured its deep sense of yearning, its passion and the way the heartfelt main melody winds its way to a peaceful conclusion.
Smetana’s Piano Trio came next, a work of huge emotional range and which the Guarneri Trio seemed to have in their bloodstream. Much of its fast music is edgily agitated but it’s the opening’s desperate, struggling violin melody that sticks most poignantly in the memory. No wonder: Smetana was thinking of his first child ‘whose extraordinary musical talent delighted us, but who was snatched away from us by pitiless death at the age of four years.’ The Guarneri Trio reached deep inside the music’s emotional core.
After the interval came Beethoven’s last piano trio – which also happens to be his most sublime, his most masterful and his most playful. All of which is astonishing considering that he was deaf by the time he wrote it. Known as the ‘Archduke’ Trio, it’s one of many works which Beethoven dedicated to his friend, pupil and patron the Archduke Rudolph of Austria. It moves from expansive opening movement through a witty scherzo into a serene hymn-like slow movement and from there to the exuberant dance of the brilliant finale.
Trio playing must doesn’t get any better than the Guarneris’. Pianist Ivan Klansky seemed to take flight, scattering bright gems of sparkling wit along the way. And his colleagues Cenek Pavlik and Marek Jerie were entirely like-minded, moulding every detail with sharp insight whilst making the music seem new-minted.
Guarneri Trio Prague:
Ivan Klansky, piano
Cenek Pavlik, violin
Marek Jerie, cello