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Beethoven: The Complete Piano Trios, Vol. 4

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Catalogue No: SOMMCD 0144
Release Date: 02/01/2015
Number of Discs: 1
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Beethoven Piano Trios Vol. 4
Piano Trio in E flat major Op. 1 No. 1 (1795)
Trio in E flat major Hess 48 (c 1790)
Trio in B flat major Op. 97, Archduke (1811 revised 1814)

Gould Piano Trio

“Cantabile playing — beautiful singing tone — is fundamental to the Goulds’ style, and this was most apparent in the slow movement, its variations unfolding gently and majestically. Hats off to violinist Lucy Gould, cellist Alice Neary and pianist Benjamin Frith, but the honour was threefold. This was compelling playing, with every note voiced to carry its true functional and emotional weight, as the live recording will surely confirm.”  ***** Rian Evans, The Guardian, May 2012

The Gould Piano Trio release the fourth and final volume of their monumental recordings of the complete Beethoven Piano Trios.

This concluding disc of Beethoven’s complete music for piano trio, was recorded live by the Gould Piano Trio in a series of concerts at St. George’s Brandon Hill, Bristol. The concert, comprising Volume 4 and the last in the series, took place before an enthusiastic audience, on 23rd May 2012.

This significant collection ends with a unique coupling which marries the very first work Beethoven wrote for piano trio, the little Trio in E flat composed when he was 22, with his last — the great masterpiece known as the ‘Archduke’ Trio, so called because it was dedicated to his patron, the Archduke Rudolf. It was written 20 years later, bringing Beethoven’s immortal series of Trios to an end.

The very early Piano Trio Hess 48 dates from the Beethoven’s final months in his home city of Bonn, before he left for Vienna in 1792. Beautifully crafted, it is a masterly little work, complete in itself, intended surely to afford pleasure, and to delight his friends at the same time as impressing his likely patrons and sponsors with his artistry.

The three Op. 1 Piano Trios were first heard publicly in August 1795 at the palace of Prince Karl Lichnowsky, who was an early  admirer of the young Beethoven. They are dedicated to Lichnowsky and they made such a deep impression on him and his aristocratic friends that they assured Beethoven’s reputation as a composer of a uniquely extraordinary talent.  Beethoven played the premiere himself, with violinist Ignaz Schuppanzigh and cellist Anton Kraft.

The Trio Op. 1 No. 1 opens with a vigorous exposition in sonata form ending with an expansive coda, one of Beethoven’s early hallmarks. The Adagio slow movement has gracious lyricism expanding into rondo form. The third movement is an early Scherzo dominated by the very fast tempo of the flowing piano commentary. The Finale is full of energetic high spirits teeming with audacious ideas which bring the music to its brilliant conclusion.

The ‘Archduke’ Trio is considered by many as Beethoven’s greatest Piano Trio and a supreme masterpiece on a par with the late string quartets. It was premiered in 1814. Beethoven was the pianist, although reports from those present suggest that his increasing deafness impaired the performance. This piece more than anything, represents a summation of everything that he had accomplished as a composer. The broad opening movement and the Andante Cantabile  variations  in the third movement share a nobility and spirituality, whereas the second movement Scherzo and the Finale fourth movement are lighter, almost jocular in character. The Finale in particular, cannot hide an overall mood of well-being, especially in the building excitement of the final Presto which hurtles to its conclusion.

Gould Trio

Since winning the first prize at both the Premio Vittorio Gui in Florence and the inaugural Melbourne Chamber Music Competition, while being promoted in Europe and the US as British ‘Rising Stars’, the Gould Piano Trio is now considered as one of the finest of its kind performing today. The Washington Post commented that “after twenty years of playing together, what they produce is truly extraordinary”.

Their widely diverse repertoire and ever-expanding discography display a strong stylistic conviction appreciated by audiences and critics alike. Concerts at major venues, such as the Wigmore and Carnegie Halls and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and tours of North and South America, Europe and the Far East, as well as highly regarded educational projects, have introduced them to a wide and varied public. Having established their own annual festival with clarinettist Robert Plane in the Northumberland town of Corbridge, they enjoy exploring contrasting chamber music genres with their musical peers. First-hand experience working with contemporary composers has led to the commissioning of many new works, the most recent being a second piano trio from James MacMillan, premiered in 2014 at the Bath International Festival.

On This Recording

  1. Piano Trio No. 1: I. Allegro
  2. Piano Trio No. 1: II. Adagio
  3. Piano Trio No. 1: III. Scherzo: Allegro assai
  4. Piano Trio No. 1: IV. Finale: Presto
  5. Allegretto: Allegretto in E-Flat Major, Hess 48
  6. Piano Trio No. 7: I. Allegro moderato
  7. Piano Trio No. 7: II. Scherzo
  8. Piano Trio No. 7: III. Andante cantabile ma pero con moto – Poco più adagio
  9. Piano Trio No. 7: IV. Allegro moderato