Beethoven: Piano Trio No. 5 in D, Op. 70/1

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COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: Naxos
ALBUM TITLE: Beethoven – Piano Trios
WORKS: Piano Trio No. 5 in D, Op. 70/1
PERFORMER: Xyrion Trio
CATALOGUE NO: 8.557723
The more famous of the Op. 70

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trios is the first, the D major with

the ‘flickering’ tremolos of its

slow movement which earned it

the nickname of the Ghost; but

Beethoven himself seems to have

preferred its miraculously beautiful

companion-piece in E flat major.

Certainly, the two could hardly be

more different, or more original. In

the Ghost two exceptionally quick

outer movements enclose a sombre

Largo in the minor; while the E flat

Trio has four movements, not one of

them slow.

I hadn’t come across the Xyrion

Trio before (violinist Ida Bieler,

cellist Maria Kliegel and pianist

Nina Tichman), but this recording

makes me keen to hear the group

again. Perhaps the early Op. 44

Variations – in all likelihood

Beethoven’s first stab at a finale for

his Trio Op. 1 No. 1 – could have

done with a lighter approach; but

the performances of the Op. 70

works are thoroughly musical and

full of imaginative touches. In the

finales, in particular, the players

bring out all the music’s wit and

energy. Only the Haydnesque

second movement of the E flat work

disappoints, with a performance

that’s again on the heavy side. More

graceful and elegant in this piece is

the Kalichstein/Laredo/Robinson

Trio; and the same players’ very slow

account of the Ghost Trio’s Largo

has a shade more mystery than the

Xyrion Trio manages to convey.

But this new disc is certainly a

bargain, and well worth exploring.

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Misha Donat