Please wait...

Hyperion Records

Click cover art to view larger version
Track(s) taken from CDA67393
Recording details: December 2002
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: April 2004
Total duration: 28 minutes 1 seconds

'The Florestan Trio seems determined to extract every last ounce of energy, wit and spirit from these early works … the principal vehicle for conveying the music's brightness is Susan Tomes's finger-work, wonderfully precise and rhythmical' (Gramophone)

'Susan Tomes's dancing, crystalline passagework is a constant delight; instrumental repartee is delectably crisp and pointed; and the players are acutely alive to the sudden moments of stillness and harmonic darkening' (BBC Music Magazine)

'This is the third volume of the Florestans' four-CD set of the complete piano trios; like its predecessors, it's a winner … the first two trios, recorded here, are among the young composer's most engaging, entertaining and genial works, and they get performances of characteristic swagger, brio and wit from this elite ensemble, perhaps the finest contemporary exponents of this repertoire performing on modern instruments today. Sample the irresistible elan of the allegro first movements and dazzling presto finales, and be won over' (The Sunday Times)

'The Florestan Trio's performance is vivid and dynamic' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Everything about this release is distinguished: superb engineering that puts the performers squarely in the room; virtuosic execution, with precision prevailing, even in the most rapidly executed runs; careful attention to balances, detail, and dynamics; and, perhaps most important, tempos that invariably hit the right emotional and aesthetic bull's eye' (Fanfare, USA)

'This ensemble are probably the finest current interpreters of this repertoire on modern instruments, and their superb playing supplies some extra vigour and wit … with Hyperion's very good sound, this this has got to be a winner and has therefore got to receive a firm recommendation' (Hi-Fi Plus)

'Hearing what these players can do with Beethoven in his early stages sharpens the appetite for the other courses in the Beethoven trio cycle' (San Francisco Chronicle)

'The listener's attention is constantly sharpened by the lucidity of this performance … a performance equal to the music itself' (Nineteenth-Century Music Review)

'The Florestan Trio’s collection of Beethoven trios is rounding itself out to be an outstanding cycle of an extraordinary standard. Now we have the opus 1 trios … the feeling of freshness and newness in the Florestan’s playing is highly virtuosic, yet witty and sensitive. Seldom is the vexing question of the balance between piano and string instruments so convincingly solved as here. The perceptiveness of the three musicians is enhanced by the fine recording technique' (Klassik-Heute.com)

Piano Trio in E flat major, Op 1 No 1
composer
circa 1793 to 1795; published in August 1795 and dedicated to Prince Karl Lichnowsky

Allegro  [9'23]
Adagio cantabile  [6'47]
Presto  [7'12]

Other recordings available for download
London Fortepiano Trio
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Beethoven was determined to create a stir in the world with his Opus 1, and seems to have laboured long on the trios, revising them extensively before publication. He began work on No 2 in 1793, and on No 3 in 1794, while sketches for No 1 almost certainly date back to the Bonn years. Beethoven had first ventured a piano trio in 1791, and it was no accident that he chose the medium to announce himself to the wider musical world. The combination of violin, cello and piano was a favourite with amateurs, promising healthy sales. It assured Beethoven a star role on his own instrument. And unlike, say, the string quartet and the symphony, it had not been central to the output of Mozart or of Haydn, whose wonderful series of late trios was introduced to Vienna only after his return from London in August 1795.

Despite Haydn’s misgivings about the C minor, Beethoven’s Op 1 was enthusiastically received by both ‘connoisseurs’ and amateur musicians (‘Kenner und Liebhaber’ – a favourite eighteenth-century distinction), and made the composer a handsome profit. Yet with their largely emancipated string parts, their weighty, extended sonata structures and their intensity of musical dialectic, the three works must have seemed like a headlong assault on the traditional notion of the piano trio as a small-scale domestic genre. Each of the trios is in four movements rather than the two or three expected in chamber music with piano: these are not elevated divertissements, but symphonies for three instruments. And if the cello sometimes doubles the keyboard bass, as it rarely does in Beethoven’s later trios, it often asserts its individuality in a way that Mozart only intermittently and Haydn almost never allowed.

The first two movements of the E flat major Trio, No 1, are the most obviously Mozartian in the set, though the opening Allegro’s textural richness, thematic abundance and sheer breadth of scale are hallmarks of the young Beethoven. There is expansion at almost every level: say, in the second group’s leisurely proliferation of themes, beginning with a quiet chorale-like melody spiced with sforzando accents; or in the huge coda, in effect a second development, where first piano and then strings further exploit the movement’s opening ‘rocket’ figure, at one point nonchalantly turning it upside down.

The Adagio cantabile in A flat is just as expansive, a luxuriant rondo with a first episode fashioned as a soulful love duet for violin and cello (in its eloquent middle and upper registers) and an impassioned second episode in the outré key of A flat minor – calculated to appeal to the Kenner among Prince Lichnowsky’s audience. The third movement is the most subversively original in the work, and the first of Beethoven’s true scherzi: with its initial tonal ambiguity (the music feints at C minor, F minor and B flat before finally establishing E flat in bar 15), its comical obsession with the ‘flicking’ opening figure, and its mingled cussedness and mercurial lightness, it leaves its minuet model far in the background.

If the spirit of Mozart lies behind the first two movements, the sonata-form finale suggests Haydn in its verve and brilliance, and in the witty capital Beethoven makes of the initial leaping figure. But the coda is again expanded beyond Haydn’s dimensions into a second development. Its sly opening shift from E flat to E major and subsequent fortissimo wrench back again are an early example of a Beethoven ploy that will find its comic apotheosis in the finale of the Eighth Symphony.

from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2004


Other albums featuring this work
'Beethoven: Piano Trios' (CDA66197)
Beethoven: Piano Trios
MP3 £4.00FLAC £4.00ALAC £4.00Buy by post £13.99 (ARCHIVE SERVICE) CDA66197  Archive Service   Download currently discounted
'Beethoven: The Complete Music for Piano Trio' (CDS44471/4)
Beethoven: The Complete Music for Piano Trio
MP3 £20.00FLAC £20.00ALAC £20.00Buy by post £22.00 CDS44471/4  4CDs Boxed set (at a special price)  

Show: MP3 FLAC ALAC
   English   Français   Deutsch