Beethoven: Triple Concerto; Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano

Andreas Ottensamer, Gil Shaham, Anne Gastinel, Nicholas Angelich; Frankfurt Radio Symphony/Paavo Järvi (Naïve)

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CD_5418_Beethoven_cmyk

Beethoven Triple Concerto; Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano
Andreas Ottensamer (clarinet), Gil Shaham (violin), Anne Gastinel (cello), Nicholas Angelich (piano); Frankfurt Radio Symphony/Paavo Järvi
Naive V5418 54:15 mins

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Beethoven’s Triple Concerto is a leisurely and occasionally sprawling piece in which the music appears constantly to be holding its breath in anticipation of some unforeseen event. Some of those events, when they occur, are startling: the abrupt switches of key in the first movement, throwing the music each time into a wholly new direction; the finale’s polonaise theme, constantly rocking back and forth between two opposing keys; the manner in which the solo cello seizes the initiative from the orchestra in mid-phrase near the start of the wonderfully serene slow movement.

Of the soloists, it’s the cello that has the lion’s share, and Anne Gastinel makes the most of the part on this new recording. Her playing has a warmth and eloquence that made me think back to the famous account by Rostropovich, with Oistrakh, Richter, and the Berlin Philharmonic under Karajan. Gastinel is well partnered by Gil Shaham and Nicholas Angelich, and Paavo Järvi conducts sympathetically, treating the slow movement as a genuine Largo, and allowing himself a slight relaxation in tempo for the finale’s swaggering central episode, the apotheosis of the polonaise. For the Op. 11 Clarinet Trio, Shaham and Gastinel are joined by Andreas Ottensamer. It’s another fine performance – almost too beautiful at times, in fact: the outer movements find Beethoven at his gruffest, and the players occasionally try to extract too much poetry and expression out of music that should sound more forthright. But it’s a small point, and the disc can be warmly recommended.

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Misha Donat