If these performances of Beethoven's earlier Piano Trios by Itzhak Perlman, Vladimir Ashkenazy, and Lynn Harrell are suave and sophisticated with a soupçon of sentimentality, well, that's what modern performance practice was like in the '80s. And if that sounds like an appealing manner in which to perform Beethoven's earlier Piano Trios, this is the recording to hear. Perlman, Ashkenazy, and Harrell lean into Beethoven's music, singing everything grandly, sounding everything gloriously, and souping everything up completely. One might argue that Beethoven's Piano Trios, Op. 1, are too Viennese High Classical to respond well to their approach, that the works seem more maimed and mauled then persuasively performed, but one cannot deny that Perlman, Ashkenazy, and Harrell put every iota of their expressivity and virtuosity into their overpowering performances. EMI's early digital sound has been pleasantly remastered for this CD reissue.
Made during the late Sixties and early Seventies, this iconic recording of Beethoven's duos and piano trios brings together three of the world's finest musicians: Zukerman, Barenboim and du Pre. The compilation reveals the players' intent on extracting the ultimate in expression; also featuring a live performance of Tchaikovsky's A minor Trio, it's combination of youthful exuberance and interpretative flair remains undiminished.
Asked to provide a capsule characterization of the Beethoven trios as opposed to the many other fine ones that the Istomin-Stern-Rose Trio performed, Isaac Stern offered the summation that "Beethoven is constantly driving himself and his performers in a way unknown to any other composer. There is none of the romantic levity one finds in the works of others. He is always deadly in earnest, even when introducing a lighter touch for contrast….."Irving Kolodin
By giving the stringed instruments the status of genuinely equal partners with the piano, it was Beethoven who gave the piano trio the form it was to retain throughout the 19th century. This album presents the composer's last two works in the genre, Op.70 No.2 dedicated to Countess Marie Erdödy, and the celebrated 'Archduke' trio, which marked the final public appearance of its composer.
Three eminent Beethovenians, Isabelle Faust, Jean-Guihen Queyras and Alexander Melnikov join forces here in performances that aim to highlight Beethoven's humour in their interpretation and set a new benchmark in the process.