It may be impossible to be any more ingrained in the proud Czech musical lineage than the Smetana Trio. Founded in 1934 by prominent Czech pianist Josef Páleníc¿ek, the trio borrows its name from Bedr¿ich Smetana, the nineteenth-century composer whose operas and short symphonic works characterized and inspired the country's quest for independence. While the luminaries of the Czech classical tradition remain central to the ensemble's repertoire, the Smetana now frequently ventures beyond the boundaries of state and nation.
Praised by The Guardian for its "exuberant grandeur and concentrated precision," the ensemble remains vigorous well into its ninth decade. In Durham, the program juxtaposes the depth of the mercurial late nineteenth-century Piano Trio in D Minor by Austrian composer Alexander von Zemlinsky and the drama of Shostakovich's Piano Trio No. 1 in C Minor. The concert concludes triumphantly with Mendelssohn's jubilant Piano Trio No. 1 in D Minor, a showcase for the Smetana's trademark "musical skill, flawless ensemble, and exceptional communicative ability" (American Record Guide).