Beethoven: Complete String Trios

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Ludwig van Beethoven
LABELS: Stone Records
ALBUM TITLE: Beethoven: Complete String Trios
WORKS: Complete String Trios
PERFORMER: Lendvai String Trio
CATALOGUE NO: 5060192782039

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Beethoven’s five String Trios are among the more neglected areas of his output, though they contain some remarkably beautiful music. The first and last works in the Op. 9 triptych, in particular, can fully stand comparison with Beethoven’s first set of string quartets, Op. 18. There have been some fine recordings of these Trios in the past, especially from the Trio Italiano (DG), the Leopold Trio (Hyperion), and the Zimmermann Trio, whose BIS recording of the Op. 9 series was a deserving winner in this year’s BBC Music Magazine Awards. 

It’s a pleasure, then, to find that this new version by the London-based Lendvai Trio can hold its own in such exalted company. If the players can’t quite match the virtuoso brilliance of the Zimmermann Trio in the scampering Presto finale of Op. 9 No. 1, their well-considered performances show affection for the music, revelling in its warmth and flashes of humour, and they are beautifully recorded.

The Lendvai players take an expansive view of the first of the Op. 9 Trios, observing both repeats in the opening movement and even throwing in a discarded second trio for the Scherzo (a piece also included on the Leopold Trio’s version). The C minor Trio Op. 9 No. 3 is as dark and dramatic as it should be, and the performance of the Op. 8 Serenade – an unabashed piece of entertainment music – conveys a real sense of enjoyment. Altogether, a resounding success.

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Misha Donat