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Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Triple Concerto in C major, Op. 56 (1803-04) [34:35]
Septet in E flat major, Op. 20 (1799-1800) [39:23]
Yefim Bronfman (piano); Gil Shaham (violin); Truls Mørk (cello); Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich/David Zinman - concerto;
Michael Reid (clarinet); Florenz Jenny (bassoon); Jakob Hefti (horn); Gil Shaham (violin); Michel Rouilly (viola); Truls Mørk (cello); Ronald Dangel (double-bass) - septet
rec. Zurich Tonhalle, 20-21 (c), 30-31 (s) October 2004. DDD
ARTE NOVA CLASSICS 82876 64015 2 [74:21]
 


A couple of months ago I heard a report on BBC Radio Three of this recording. The line-up seemed excellent: Mørk’s 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. Zinman’s Beethoven cycle has been one of the best bargains in recent years and it all added up to a winner and at a fiver too!
 
Right from the start this performance thrills; no run-through - this is the real thing! A problem with this piece is whether it’s 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 one does.
 
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 trio’s 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 don’t hesitate.
 
It would be a pity if the Septet ends up being regarded as filler on this disc. It is one of Beethoven’s early masterpieces and was very popular at the time. This delightful piece is most enjoyable especially when played so eloquently. I don’t 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 Beethoven’s’ 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 evidence.
 
Yes this is definitely a splendid bargain and one I’ll be returning to often!
 
David R Dunsmore

see also review by Ateş Orga
 

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