A couple of months
ago I heard a report on BBC Radio Three of this recording.
The line-up seemed excellent: MÝrkís bargain set from Virgin
has been on my shelves for a year and I heard Gil Shaham at
the Proms a couple of years ago in the Mendelssohn fiddle concerto.
Zinmanís Beethoven cycle has been one of the best bargains
in recent years and it all added up to a winner and at a fiver
Right from the
start this performance thrills; no run-through - this is the
real thing! A problem with this piece is whether itís a concerto
for three or a piano trio with accompaniment. Here the three
players seem very much in tune with each other and the orchestra
is splendid. There are times when the first movement can sound
almost like a pastiche of Beethoven but the listener quickly
becomes very caught up with the piece and the sound is extremely
well captured. A good trio sounds like a conversation and this
What a lovely movement
is the Largo. Its plaintive nature is clearly in evidence
here. First the violin enters, then the piano with the bassoon
in accompaniment. This leads into what is arguably the only
great melody in the piece, a lovely rondo bought in with cello
and then violin. After the trioís conversational banter the
orchestra carry on. This is a reading that avoids over-doing
the emotion. Zinman is clearly a highly sympathetic conductor.
Memories of Karajan may not be eroded but for newcomers and
buyers of the Zinman set donít hesitate.
It would be a pity
if the Septet ends up being regarded as filler on this disc.
It is one of Beethovenís early masterpieces and was very popular
at the time. This delightful piece is most enjoyable especially
when played so eloquently. I donít know how often the musicians
have performed together but the ensemble sounds like a group,
not a put-together band. Really this is a piece to enjoy rather
than analyze. The first movement is excellent and is followed
by the clarinet-led adagio. I like Beethovenísí wind pieces
and this one is a gem. The Minuet uses the tune present in
piano sonata number 20 and has a very hummable melody. All
in all this is a super performance with witty interplay in
Yes this is definitely
a splendid bargain and one Iíll be returning to often!
David R Dunsmore
see also review
by Ateş Orga
Gerard Hoffnung CDs
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