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Hyperion Records

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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: 29 minutes 33 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 G major, Op 1 No 2
composer
1793/5; published in August 1795 and dedicated to Prince Karl Lichnowsky

Presto  [7'16]

Other recordings available for download
London Fortepiano Trio
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The G major Trio immediately establishes its symphonic scale with an imposing slow introduction – something unheard of in a piano trio, and rare even in a string quartet. But the start of the Allegro lightens the atmosphere with a wispy, capricious theme that hovers on the dominant rather than emphasizing the tonic, G – shades here of Haydn’s ‘Oxford’ Symphony. Haydnesque, too, is the way this theme derives from phrases in the introduction. Beethoven is less lavish with his material than in the E flat Trio, though there is a delightfully jaunty ‘second subject’, proposed by the violin and then elaborated by the piano. But the first theme dominates both the development and the typically ample coda, where Beethoven continues to make witty and whimsical play with the theme’s opening phrase.

Haydn and Mozart wrote many Andantes in gently swaying 6/8 siciliano rhythm. But only rarely did they compose a siciliano in the slower, Adagio tempo. It is characteristic of the young Beethoven’s search for increased profundity of expression that the second movement of the G major Trio combines a siciliano lilt with an unprecedented hymn-like solemnity. The tempo marking, Largo con espressione, is itself novel and significant; and the rapt atmosphere is enhanced by the choice of key, E major, which sounds remote and radiant after G major. Beethoven shows a typical feeling for long-range tonal planning when he later plunges dramatically (with a sudden fortissimo) from B major to the work’s home key of G, initiating a searching modulating development of the opening theme.

Though definitely a scherzo rather than a minuet, the third movement is less wilful than its counterpart in Op 1 No 1, playing insouciantly with rising and falling scales, à la Haydn. The Trio turns to B minor for a laconic waltz of comic banality – the kind of music likely to turn up in Beethoven’s works from the early years right through to the visionary late quartets. After the return of the scherzo Beethoven appends a brief coda that toys with the theme’s opening figure before dying away to pianissimo.

The finale was originally in 4/4 time. But at an early run-through the cellist Anton Kraft (best-known for his association with Haydn) suggested that the music would be better notated in 2/4, and Beethoven duly adopted the idea. Opening with a catchy ‘riding’ theme in rapid repeated notes (perfect for the violin, but artfully refashioned when the piano takes it over), this is another movement that infuses Haydn’s spirit with Beethoven’s own brand of boisterousness. The music is full of aggressive sforzando accents, rough dynamic contrasts (at their most extreme in the coda) and mysterious or dramatic plunges to distant keys. The development alights for a while in E major, the key of the Adagio – another instance of Beethoven’s large-scale tonal strategy. But perhaps the wittiest moment of all comes with the start of the recapitulation. Here a smooth new figure in octaves on the piano seems to be preparing for the return of the ‘riding’ theme, which then enters unobtrusively, before we realize it, while the piano octaves continue as if nothing has happened.

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)  

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