Beethoven: Piano Trios
ALBUM TITLE: Beethoven
WORKS: Piano Trios
PERFORMER: Peter Cropper (violin), Moray Welsh (cello), Martin Roscoe (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: SON 11102
This disc includes Beethoven’s First Piano Trio – his first work with an opus number, written when he was in his early twenties. It’s paired with his last Trio, the Archduke, written 18 years later when Beethoven was on the cusp of his late period.
The three distinguished players on this recording give an account of Op. 1 No. 1 that would be hard to beat, relishing the rich mastery that Beethoven had already attained. They show his debt to Haydn, who nonetheless would not have produced this combination of vigour, meditativeness, and impudence.
The last Trio is for me a more problematic work: its broad opening theme, played by piano alone, can sound ponderous and over-scored, as it does here. It’s marked Allegro moderato, but Martin Roscoe’s tempo is a leisurely andante. This movement should take wing but rarely seems to, although it’s not often that Beethoven gives himself such a tuneful subject to work on. The other movements, especially the profound third, present no such interpretative issues; they are marvellously played by a team who have been working together for six years, great minds thinking alike. The recording is super-rich.