This is the second volume of Beethoven Piano trios
played by the excellent Gould Piano Trio. Like the first Volume, given
a very favourable review
by Jonathan Woolf this is recorded live at the fine venue of St. George’s
Bristol. Like the first disc we are given a very early piece, one from
the groundbreaking Op. 1, and one from Beethoven’s maturity. Beethoven’s
piano trios are an outstanding example of his genius and developed and
redefined the genre from his mentor Haydn.
Op.1 No.3 is one of my favourite works, which slightly perversely I
got to know through Beethoven’s transcription for String Quintet
Op. 104. The Quintet is featured in Vikram Seth’s An Equal
, with particular emphasis on the sublime slow movement. For
those interested there’s a very fine version by the Lindsays on
ASV CD DCA 1118. Although the Trio shows extraordinary maturity for
a 23 year old, Haydn for some reason advised him not to publish it!
The Gould play this superbly and the balance between the instruments
is perfect and well captured by the engineers. The second movements
with a set of variations on a hymn-like melody
is performed as well as I’ve heard it; an onward pulse never letting
the music drag. What strikes me throughout is the equal strengths of
the players and the way they are at one with each other. The feeling
of live chamber music playing comes over very strongly. The December
audience is commendably quiet and I don’t mind the applause. There
are many fine versions in the catalogue but this excellent performance
is in the top rank.
Fifteen years later Beethoven published the two trios Op. 70, the first
of which is the much more famous Ghost -
this appeared in Volume
One. They were written about the same time as the demanding Razumovsky
quartets Op. 59 and also the Choral Fantasia
of which appear in the second movement. The strength of this work is
that it looks back to Haydn and Mozart yet moves the genre forward as
he had done in other spheres. The whole trio is a triumph for the Gould
who combine the necessary individual prowess, particularly in the powerful
Finale, with a strong feeling of ensemble. It’s a reading I will
return to often.
The disc also includes a piece written when Beethoven was only 21. There
are only three movements. It’s a charming work but even here Beethoven
is developing from Haydn in freeing the cello in the last movement.
With such splendid playing it makes an apt start to this concert.
There are brief but excellent notes by Robert Matthew-Walker in English,
French and German.
The Gould are to be congratulated for another very fine disc. They performed
the remaining trios, including the wonderful Archduke
last year. I for one will be awaiting the next Volume impatiently. There
will be time then to compare this set with the considerable competition.
David R Dunsmore