Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Concerto for Piano, Violin, Cello and Orchestra in C major, Op. 56 [36:41]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Concerto for Violin, Cello and Orchestra in A minor, Op. 102 [32:45]
Trio Poseidon: Sara Trobäck Hesselink (violin); Claes Gunnarsson (cello); Per Lundberg (piano)
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra (The National Orchestra of Sweden)/Neeme Järvi
rec. Concert Hall, Gothenburg, Sweden, 19-20 August 2004 (Brahms); 22-23 February 2007 (Beethoven)
CHANDOS CHAN 10564 [69:41]

My earliest days with classical music - a mission that continues - were marked by a series of discoveries: delights and disasters, fascination and revulsion or indifference. A friend at college introduced me to classical music via his collection of LPs of Stravinsky, Janacek, Martinu, Sibelius and Vaughan Williams. In parallel I was listening to BBC Radio 3 and adding mainstream classical-romantic works. Radio and TV drama serials - which in those days (1960s and 1970s) made plentiful use of classical music - also left their mark. I heard the Beethoven Triple Concerto one day and was quite bowled over by it. I am fairly sure it was the classic Karajan, Oistrakh, Richter, Rostropovich on EMI. I read that it was amongst the more modest of the Beethoven scores but it quickly took hold of my affections well beyond the grip of the symphonies. It was much the same with the Brahms Double Concerto though its mastery is more acknowledged among the four symphonies than Beethoven’s Triple among the Nine. With the Brahms Double revelation came via the Stern/Rose/Ormandy recording on CBS rather than the sanctified Oistrakh/Rostropovich/Szell on EMI. I revelled in Rose’s sumptuous no holds-barred-tone which flowed like a warming wave. No doubt the effect was accentuated by microphone array decisions but that was of no concern. The Stern/Rose/Ormandy was part of a box of 3 Brahms LPs where CBS had shoe-horned the Double with Stern’s Violin Concerto and Serkin’s two piano concertos. The CBS version of the Double rather spoilt me for later versions so when I snapped up a cassette (remember those) of some 1959 recordings of Brahms Double (Galliera Philharmonia Oistrakh Fournier) and Beethoven Triple (Sargent, Philharmonia, Oistrakh, Oborin, Knushevitsky) TC-EMX2035 I was disappointed. It was all too uniform, civilised and collegiate.

I wondered, when I picked up this disc, whether I was in for the same experience. Not a bit of it. This new recording is a joyous affair. From it the allegedly modest Beethoven rises above its reputation and the Brahms stands proud. It differs from my early reference versions in that the soloists have for years played as part of the Poseidon Trio and therefore know each other from the sustained intimacy of chamber music playing. Their musical equivalent of conversation, symposium and badinage benefits from that familiarity with each other and is not dissipated by the interaction with an orchestra. Interestingly the Brahms has had to wait six years before release and the Beethoven three years. The Chandos team have clearly bided their time before having the effrontery to challenge the other majors. Their decision was well made. Just because the names of the soloists are not internationally known is no reason to pass this by. You will lose out if you do. In terms of modern sound blended with artistic insight, poignancy and exciting performance values this is a version to have. That the recordings were made from live concerts creates no problems at all. The Brahms may not have quite the scorching calorific value of the Rose and Stern on CBS-Sony but it is not far off. The Beethoven has rarely if ever sounded as good - try the Polacca finale. Congratulations all-round. This deserves to do very well indeed.

Rob Barnett