Beethoven, Haydn: Piano Trio in G, Hob.XV:25 (Gypsy Rondo)

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COMPOSERS: Beethoven,Haydn
LABELS: BBC Wigmore Hall
WORKS: Piano Trio in G, Hob.XV:25 (Gypsy Rondo)
PERFORMER: Gábor Takács-Nagy (violin), Péter Szabó (cello), Dénes Várjon (piano)
Most recordings marketed as ‘live’ these days are likely to consist of a composite of two or three concert performances, plus a rehearsal or two, all spliced together to eliminate any audience noise, and the slightest musical blemish. The more welcome, then, is this new BBC venture presenting genuinely unedited performances from its Wigmore Hall lunchtime series. This particular concert is especially fine, with a lively account of Haydn’s ‘Gypsy Rondo’ trio, and an expansive performance of Beethoven’s ‘Archduke’ – expansive enough, indeed, to present its scherzo for once as the composer intended, with two full appearances of the trio section between three statements of the scherzo itself. Beethoven knew what he was doing: this movement needs to match the scope of the remainder of the work. Yet the second occurrence of the trio is almost invariably cut. (BBC Music Magazine readers who have the cover disc supplied with the *** 1995 issue will find another rare integral account of the piece.)


The question of repeats does not, of course, in itself influence the quality of the playing itself. Fortunately, the Takács Trio give a warm, affectionate account, with only the slow movement a shade on the ponderous side. For all its profound expressiveness, this visionary set of variations needs to flow – and float – rather more. Cortot, Thibaud and Casals are incomparable here. Their effortlessly elegant performance, now more than 70 years old, has never been surpassed, though the tempo fluctuations of the scherzo’s trio (once-through only) take some getting used to. Misha Donat