One of the musical dreams of Veronika Jarůšková and Peter Jarůšek, the principal members of the Pavel Haas Quartet, and famous pianist Boris Giltburg was to record Antonín Dvořák’s complete piano trios. They first performed all of them at the 2021 Dvořák Prague Festival and now a studio recording released by Supraphon is available on CD and in digital formats.
Why did you decide to record Dvořák’s piano trios?
Veronika Jarůšková: It was a common dream of the three of us, which originated at the 2021 Dvořák Prague Festival, where Boris was the chamber music series curator. He and the festival’s director, Jan Simon, had agreed that Dvořák’s complete piano trios would be performed at the festival and Boris approached us. That was the first moment when we all fell in love with Dvořák’s trios.
Boris Giltburg: Our recording radiates warmth and joy. Veronika and Peter are my closest musician friends. The combination of a musical and close personal friendship is something extraordinary that allows us to play chamber music together in a very personal way. It is not only about the way we respond to each other and about the dialogue we have. The important thing is that we constitute a single organism based on trust, friendship and the love of music.
Peter Jarůšek: I agree. Such a musical partnership is really unique.
The recording sessions took place in December and May at Wyastone Leys in Wales. What advantages did it have?
Veronika Jarůšková: Boris recommended the place to us because he’d had some experience with the studio. We also worked with his recording team: music director Andrew Keener and sound engineer Oscar Torres. Boris had asked Andrew and his team whether we could come to Wales to record and they agreed immediately. It was a new experience for us because we had never recorded in this way – two three-day recording sessions.
Peter Jarůšek: We could afford it thanks to Supraphon, who agreed to Andrew Keener supervising the recording and to the production taking place outside the Czech Republic. This album boasts a first: it was the first time a Czech chamber ensemble had recorded for Supraphon abroad!
The Wye Valley is a truly inspiring place. Is it nice to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city while you record Dvořák’s music?
Peter Jarůšek: It is a very strong element, particularly with Dvořák. When you play his music, nature really encourages imagination.
Veronika Jarůšková: When we arrived, we realised how great the place was for concentrating on music. I mean this in the mental sense: we were isolated from the rest of the world, surrounded by a beautiful countryside and away from the problems of everyday life. We would only talk about music all day long and we enjoyed it a lot. Everybody knew what and how the others were playing and we were all very perceptive and sensitive to every single note.
Peter Jarůšek: Andrew Keener tried to understand what we were trying to say with our music and he kept making sure that what we were playing was the true meaning of the music that we wanted to convey. I think that’s an approach that musicians encounter very rarely.
How much time did you spend recording?
Veronika Jarůšková: Three days in winter and three days in spring.
Peter Jarůšek: It was totally different from recording in Prague, where we usually have a four-hour session a day. Suddenly, we had a chance to spend all day in the studio and only focus on music. It was very intensive…
What was it like to collaborate with Andrew Keener?
Boris Giltburg: Andrew Keener is unbelievable. Music is his passion, pervading all his life.
Veronika Jarůšková: And we should also mention the support he provides the recording musicians with: he’s a great psychologist.
Peter Jarůšek: He knows exactly when you need a break and how to spice up his words to encourage you.
Are you now playing Dvořák differently from before?
Peter Jarůšek: Yes, of course. We are changing and maturing and we have gained some new experience. It would be strange if our interpretation of a particular composer’s music never changed.
Boris Giltburg: Listening to my recordings from ten years ago, it seems to me that they are played by a different person.
Veronika Jarůšková: The way you perceive music changes with time. Your feeling of the tempo is different and the most important thing is the energy that your performance emanates. And with every new experience you gradually begin to see what is between heaven and earth. That comes with age.
Peter Jarůšek: When I was younger and listened to our recordings, I felt there was something missing. I couldn’t pinpoint it then but now I know what it is and we also know what to do for our recordings to make us satisfied. On the other hand, I still admire what is happening on our older recordings. Now we are more lyrical, trying to add new moods and colours and a new character to our playing but we still maintain what is good about our older recordings: the drive and energy.
Boris, you are not only an excellent soloist but also a very sensitive chamber ensemble player. Why do you need chamber music?
Boris Giltburg: It is a totally different experience that you can’t get playing a recital or as a soloist with an orchestra. To me, recitals, piano concertos and chamber music are three vertices of a triangle and each of them has something the others don’t. And especially playing chamber music with such close friends as Veronika and Peter, who have the same feeling for music, gives you an opportunity to experience something that transcends you – something you can submit yourself to. In the end, you feel you have never experienced anything like that before. With an orchestra, you sometimes feel there is “you” and “them.” As a soloist you must persuade the orchestra to be on your side… There is nothing like that in chamber music. It allows you to experience intimacy, even bordering on introspection, and you want to share that experience with your colleagues. That really makes sense: you create something together. Moreover, there is great trust among the three of us, so you are not afraid to show your vulnerability or uncertainty.