Beethoven, Complete Piano Trios vol. 3: Op. 70 Nos. 1 & 2, Op. 44
The year 1808 was a period of superlative productivity for Beethoven: he had finished his Fifth Symphony in March, and the Sixth by September. Both symphonies would receive their premiers on 22 December 1808, during one of the most extraordinary concerts in history. In addition to the symphonies, it included the Fourth Piano Concerto, two parts from the Mass in C op. 86, an extemporized piano fantasy, the concert aria Ah perfido! op. 65, and the Choral Fantasy op. 80 that was especially composed for that occasion. The enormous programme ensured that the whole concert lasted about four hours. In the midst of all this, Beethoven somehow found the time and energy to compose two major piano trios. They are first mentioned in a letter from the end of July; the first was finished by the middle of September, and the second probably around a month later. They were completed while Beethoven was living with Countess Marie Erdödy, to whom the trios were also dedicated. The fact that she was separated from her husband at this time has fuelled much colourful speculation about whether she might have had a romantic relationship with the composer, but reliable evidence for that is lacking.
– Marten Noorduin (Liner Notes, read more in the booklet)
TracklistPlease note that the below previews are loaded as 44.1 kHz / 16 bit.
Total time: 01:12:21
Bert van der Wolf
|Original Recording Format|
Chris Maene Straight Strung Concert Grand CM17003
Charles Rademaker, Naomi van Schoot
Bert van der Wolf
Martijn van der Wolf
Northstar Recording Services BV – Bert van der Wolf
MCO-1 Hilversum (the Netherlands) – 9 July 2017 (Op. 44), 25-27 June 2018
|Recording Type & Bit Rate|
|Release Date||November 23, 2018|
It’s rare that one gets to experience a true tour de force, but that is what I’ve enjoyed the past several months with the Van Baerle Trio’s traversal of Beethoven’s complete works for piano trio—a marvellous journey through some of the greatest music ever written. (…) What I can say is that, overall, these are freshly vigorous performances. I love them for their clarity, intelligence, precise ensemble, and joie de vivre. They are not played as historically informed performances (HIP), but the performances certainly have been informed by the HIP movement in their lightness, their direct statement, their lack of over-indulgence. These are largely quick, lithe performances but with a great delicacy of touch. They don’t dawdle, but they linger where the music benefits from attention to that space and quiet between the notes that so greatly adds meaning in the right hands. And these are the right hands, indeed.
With this third volume the Van Baerle Trio confirm being well on their way to deliver a complete set that doesn’t turn pale in the face of the very best available in any format. Moreover, theirs has the advantage of boasting a supreme sound quality. Not only because of the use of Chris Maene’s purpose built ‘Straight Strings Concert Grand’ (without interference of crossed strings) with a sound image somewhere in between ‘old and new’, giving the music a pleasingly warm fundament, but also Bert van der Wolf’s peerless recording technique, almost wiping out (depending on the quality of the sound reproduction) the difference between the concert hall and a private listening room. Quite exceptional, really.
In both piano trios Op. 70 the van Baerle Trio, clearly shunning any hint of sentimentalism or exaggerated drama, play with authority and elegance, conveying the nobility of the dedicatee, Countess Marie Erdödy. The following variations Op. 44 become a moment of sheer joy. Under their capable hands each variation (of a theme by Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf) unravels Beethoven’s ingenious handling of the material in simply textured melodies reminiscent of the unequalled simplicity Haydn expressed in his best piano trios. I suggest that meanwhile listeners read Martin Noorduin’s clarifying liner notes, which are, as before, of a pleasant and informative nature.
I do hope that I’ll be excused of giving a final verdict as long as the set is not complete, but so far it has all the hallmarks of becoming a much desirable one.
Performance: 5 out of 5 stars
Sonics (Multichannel): 5 out of 5 stars
The ability of the three players to change the atmosphere, to reinforce or to oppose each other is exceptional. This is a refreshing vision which greatly complements the masterful interpretations of the past, while at the same time adding a dimension which makes you look at the Titan of music with a different sonority.
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