I am straying out of my comfort zone, that of reviewing
century British/French and Italian
music to turn to Beethoven. It gives me the opportunity to reminisce about
my student days when I first became acquainted with classical music and
began to realise that chamber music was not boring but could be interesting,
even riveting. That revelation came with the discovery of the Piano Trio and
in particular Beethoven's monumental, magnificent Archduke
Trio in B flat major Op. 97.
I had been attracted to this disc after reading my colleague Brian
Wilson's enthusiastic and erudite review of Volume 3 of this Somm Beethoven
Piano Trios series. This CD included the Gould Piano Trio's performances of
Trios in B flat and E flat on SOMMCD0135
. Brian concluded his review by
observing, "We're still waiting for the Gould Trio to give us
the Archduke .
I'm sure it will have been worth the
It certainly was well worth the wait. For me, this new recording of the
compares very favourably with the best in the field
including that made by the Beaux Arts Trio (Decca 47851530). The Gould
perform this classic of the genre with affection, conviction and polish.
Their opening Allegro moderato
is truly imposing, its nobility
tempered by lyrical beauty. Their Scherzo, second movement, is liltingly
joyous, and stormy and argumentative too. The Andante is heartfelt from its
opening hymn-like supplications to the varying moods of the variations from
a light-hearted flightiness to a more lyrical sentimentality. As for their
finale, it is a pure elated headlong indulgence.
The epic dimensions of the Archduke
Trio are well contrasted with
the Piano Trio in E flat major which Beethoven wrote in his mid-twenties.
Strongly influenced by Haydn and Mozart, this work is nevertheless
I am writing this short review mainly, I hope, as a support to the more
expansive and more knowledgeable comments of Brian Wilson. Safe to say that
I enjoyed immensely this latest release in Somm's Beethoven Piano Trio