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Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Piano Trio No.1 in B major Op.8 (1854) [28:44]
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Piano Trio (1914) [24:31]
Beaux Arts Trio
rec. May 1960, Schwetzinger Castle
HÄNSSLER CD 93.715 [53:26]

Experience Classicsonline

Founded in 1955, the Beaux Arts Trio’s first real international success came at the 1960 Edinburg Festival, after which esteem was never lacking. So it’s fortunate that this live performance, given at the festival held in Schwetzinger Castle, comes from that same period, capturing the line-up of Daniel Guilet, Bernard Greenhouse and Menahem Pressler. A word about this music festival: every performance at the festival was recorded and broadcast, and since its inception in 1952 it’s attracted some of the finest of artists. This Beaux Arts release is one of the first to be issued, along with performances by the Amadeus Quartet, Richter and Gidon Kremer.
The trio has played both these works many times over the years in all the various permutations of the group: recordings have duly followed of both these works, the Brahms in the context of all-trio surveys. The B major is an excellent example of the trio when the experienced Guilet had the violin chair. It opens with restrained nobility, with power as well as refinement defining characteristics. The scherzo is notably well characterised, taking in ländler and Hungarian elements, as well as those more inclining to sentiment. Menahem Pressler, the ever-present pianist and the trio’s anchor, weights his chords with distinction in the slow movement, and the string phrases answer with tenderness and lightening of bow pressure; there are a few expressive portamenti too.
Ravel’s trio is a very different sort of affair, of course, but Guilet was master of the French repertoire and he proves a colourist of acute perception in his phrasing. Greenhouse responds to his leads with sensitivity. The Pantoum is a highlight in this performance, full of firefly vitality and excitement, though the unfolding of the Passacaglia, first Greenhouse, then Guilet over Pressler’s keening piano chords, is not far behind.
Beethoven’s Op.11 trio opened the programme but unfortunately a recording of it no longer exists, which means the disc timing is only 53 minutes. Nevertheless the performances and the excellent broadcast quality certainly warrant investigation from this group’s admirers.
Jonathan Woolf  

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