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Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Triple Concerto Op.56 (1824) arr. 1866-67 Carl REINECKE (1824-1910)
Piano Trio Op.70 No.1 Ghost (1808-09)
Arensky Trio
Recorded Saarländischer Rundfunk, Musikstudio 1, June and July 2003
ANTES BM CD 31.9202 [59.45]


I seem to have spent quite some time recently reviewing chamber arrangements of some of Beethoven’s large-scale works. Hot foot from chamber reductions of the Eighth Symphony et al we now have Antes’ transcription, by Carl Reinecke, of the Triple Concerto. This was one of many works that the tireless Reinecke arranged and transcribed for domestic use. What distinguishes it from, say, the anonymous transcription of the Eighth Symphony, which was done whilst Beethoven was still alive and could have been by one of his pupils, is obviously that Reinecke was writing fully sixty years after Beethoven’s death.

Unlike the transcription of the Pathetique Sonata for string quintet, which amounted to a comprehensive recasting and which was also carried out during Beethoven’s lifetime and quite possibly with his sanction, Reinecke’s is a very much straighter transcription. There are few textual deviations and the most diverting feature is the clever and democratic distribution of tuttis between the three solo instruments. The Arensky Trio show a fine sense of unanimity in phrasing; their actual sound is quite discreet and small-scale, clean and narrow of vibrato. The cello bears the brunt of technical demands in this work and those demands are by and large well met.

Coupled with the Concerto is the Ghost trio, a perfectly logical choice, to balance the novelty of the Reinecke. This reveals a few limitations; some of the phrasing in the first movement sounds rushed and there’s a certain air of rhythmic heaviness and over emphasis. The slow movement is lean and spare though not ungenerous; broadly classical in outlook. It’s certainly worth getting to hear the bare bones Triple, though I think once is probably enough, even with a performance as generally sympathetic and adequately recorded as this one.

Jonathan Woolf


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