Review: Trio Martinu at the Guildhall, Portsmouth

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Musicians travelling abroad generally like to perform music from their homeland, but with Czechs it seems to be more than that.

They embrace their native dance rhythms with an infectious passion.And so it was in this Portsmouth Chamber Music concert.

Music by the Austrian Haydn fared well enough in Trio Martinu’s hands, but it was in music by the Czech composer whose name they take, and by the ultimate master, Dvorak, that their playing surged into glorious life.

Martinu’s Piano Trio No. 3 from 1951 bristles with motoric rhythms, and the players delivered them with emphatic precision.

But moments of mystery had no less sense of style, the slow movement developing an intensity that contrasted well with reflective passages.

The popular attraction was Dvorak’s Dumky Trio, built on the traditionally contrasting fast/slow dance, the dumka.

The melancholy introduction gave way to compelling high spirits, hypnotic slow sections and passages where the sense of rubato seemed as natural as breathing.

But the cello could sometimes have sung out more. After all, no-one wrote more passionately for the instrument than Dvorak did.