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Family Affair, and Dvorak's Invited

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

The Weilerstein Trio is a family affair - a mother, father and daughter. They have a new recording of works by the Czech composer Antonin Dvorak. Our critic Tom Manoff has a review.

(Soundbite of Weilerstein Trio)

TOM MANOFF: At first it was hard to listen to this music without thinking about the Weilerstein family individually. There's the father playing violin, I thought. And that's the mother on piano. And that cello line, that's Alisa Weilerstein, the daughter. I wondered what it was like to play such intimate music with one's parents.

(Soundbite of Weilerstein Trio)

This is music from Dvorak's Trio in D Minor, a work he composed in standard classical style. But Dvorak also wrote pieces that were influenced by Czech folk music. This is the most famous, the Dumky Trio.

(Soundbite of Weilerstein Trio)

Dumky is the plural of Dumka, a kind of folk song that some Czech composers adapted for their classical works. For Dvorak, a Dumka inspired a rhapsodic, even dreamlike exploration of a fleeting mood. The Dumky Trio had six of these short pieces and since none have titles, whatever moods they explore are left to the listener's imagination.

(Soundbite of Weilerstein Trio)

If a recording has any advantage over a live performance, it's that listening to the music isn't influenced by watching the musicians. In terms of pure sound, then, there's more focus on exactly what's played, and listening to the intimate dialogue among these three fine musicians, it's clear that cellist Alisa Weilerstein comes from a special family and a special musical circumstance. Weilerstein plays as if every phrase is a unique encounter. I felt remarkably connected to her performance, as if every note went straight from her bow to my ears.

Among its many rewards, this recording documents the emergence of this exciting young cellist, who's on her way to an important solo career.

NORRIS: The music is the Weilerstein Trio performing Dvorak trios. Our reviewer is Tom Manoff. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tom Manoff
Composer and author Tom Manoff has been the classical music critic for NPR's All Things Considered since 1985.

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