American cellist and composer Clancy Newman at a recent concert described Dvořák’s Dumky Trio as something you might hear al fresco – three skilled musicians having fun in an informal and spontaneous way and maybe with the hat out. There’s not much of the street corner busk about France’s Trio Wanderer’s reading of the work on their new album, or if there is it’s one of those elegant Parisian ones built by Baron Haussmann. The piece is played with a little too much Gallic sangfroid for this reviewer who prefers a more hectic, Bohemian feel to the slow-fast six-movement work, the last of the four Dvořák wrote and completed shortly before he took up his post in America.
There are no such reservations with the impeccable way they handle the other work on the album, the Op. 65 Third Trio which is, on the whole, darker hued and more in the Brahmsian mould. Its uncharacteristically melancholic third movement is thought to be an expression of Dvořák’s grief at the loss of his mother, followed by an Allegro finale which seems to say “OK, let’s get on with life.”
This is their 15th release for Harmonia Mundi, and with occasional forays to other labels their impressive discography ranges far and wide through the repertoire. Formed in 1988, and mentored by members of the Beaux Arts Trio and Amadeus Quartet, their credentials are blue ribbon. They are a superbly integrated ensemble, borne out by the fact that their newest member, violinist Jean-Marc Phillips-Vrjabedian, joined 22 years ago. Like the other members, pianist Vincent Coq and cellist Raphael Pidoux, he is a graduate of the Paris Conservatoire. Recorded at Teldex Studio Berlin, the production has all the quality you would expect from the Harmonia Mundi team.