Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Piano Trio Op.1 No.2 (pub. 1795) [30:03]
Allegretto for Piano Trio in B flat WoO 39 (1812) [6:00]
Theme and Variations on an Original Theme in E flat major Op.44 (pub. 1804) [13:28]
Piano Trio in D major Op.70 No.1 Ghost (1809) [28:50]
Gould Piano Trio
rec. October 2011, live, St George’s, Brandon Hill, Bristol
SOMM SOMMCD 0114 [78:26]
This was a live recital given on 5 October 2011 at St George’s, Brandon Hill, Bristol. The audience is commendably quiet and the recording quality is fine throughout - comparable to the best BBC broadcasts from this venue. It inaugurates the first volume in a complete series of the piano trios to be performed by the Gould Piano Trio; Lucy Gould, the violinist, cellist Alice Neary and pianist Benjamin Frith. If the forthcoming volumes are as good as this one, we will be in for a fine series of discs.
The Trio No.1 possesses a youthful energy in which the Goulds prepare well for the vivace onrush after the Adagio introduction. Lucy Gould’s statements in the slow movement are touch by delicacy over the supportive thread of the cello and piano underpinning and as the adrenalin builds she lets loose some expressively pregnant portamenti which are part of some finely lyrical playing. After a zesty Scherzo (some sniffing audible) we have a finale strong on excitement, sharp accents and vital-sounding commitment, with Frith’s adept pianism anchoring the ensemble with great facility.
The Ghost trio offers rather more in the way of characterisation and ensemble challenges. . But, again, this is clever playing, strong on direction, rhythmic accuracy, string weight and good ensemble balance between strings and piano, always a vital issue of course. Direct and to a degree no-nonsense it may be in places in the opening movement, but it’s always musicianly playing. The remarkable slow movement is given great attention to detail, pregnant with unresolved tension, slowish but never slow, whilst the finale restores spirits with open-air freshness.
There are also two substantial additions to the programme. The Allegretto in B flat WoO 39 was written a few years after the Ghost Trio and is deftly pointed and well nuanced in this communicative performance, not least when Alice Neary sings out in her lyrical moments. The Theme and Variations on an Original Theme (not separately tracked - it’s not a big deal) gathers momentum and depth and the Adagio variation casts its spell by virtue of poignant phrasing and good architectural strengths.
A fine start to this new series.
Jonathan Woolf
A fine start to this new series.