Magazine article Gramophone

Brahms * Dvorak: Brahms Piano Trio No 1

Magazine article Gramophone

Brahms * Dvorak: Brahms Piano Trio No 1

Article excerpt

Brahms * Dvorak Brahms Piano Trio No 1, Op 8. Hungarian Dance, Wo01 No 6 (arr L Ries) Dvorak Piano Trio No 4, 'Dumky', Op 90 B166 The ZEN Trio DG (F) 481 6292 (71' * DDD)

The ZEN Trio play this pair of warhorses with the technical assurance, musical conviction and stylistic unanimity of an ensemble that's been together for many years. In truth, however, pianist Zhang Zuo, violinist Esther Yoo and cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan met in 2015 on the BBC New Generation Artists scheme, and this recording was made at Henry Wood Hall in London the following June.

The first movement of Brahms's B major Trio conveys dynamism and breadth, making sense of both the Allegro con brio tempo designation and the music's expansive character. The ZEN are not afraid to take chances, either--slowing slightly at 2'41" so the strings can lean into the yearning, espressivo melody. Indeed, throughout the entire work they move from passionate declaration to tender confessional in a manner that sounds utterly natural.

In Dvorak's Dumky Trio, the ZEN present a colourful cast of characters. They tear into the opening, like new widows clawing at their clothing, then as Dvorak shuffles the work's seemingly incongruous dramatic elements--the lyrical, lamenting, playful, folksy and fantastical--they deftly slip from one role to the next. …

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