Beethoven: Piano Trio in B flat, Op. 97 (Archduke); Piano Trio in D, Op. 70/1 (Ghost)

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COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: Sony
WORKS: Piano Trio in B flat, Op. 97 (Archduke); Piano Trio in D, Op. 70/1 (Ghost)
PERFORMER: Eugene Istomin (piano), Isaac Stern (violin), Leonard Rose (cello)
CATALOGUE NO: SBK 53514 ADD (1966/70)
Distance lends enchantment. This famous mid-century group used to sound ‘big’ in its time, and fortepiano fanciers will wince at the expansive, fruity opening to the Archduke. The rest of us can enjoy a generosity of phrasing that now seems to sing the joy and pain of life itself. To be frank it is a bit sedentary, but the steady pulse allows the interplay of fine musical responses to be taken in at ease. Several degrees lighter in manner and acoustic – and despite a stereo spread that, with headphones, has violin and cello arguing from opposite sides of your head – the Ghost has energy and feeling even if it doesn’t peer over the existential edge. Robert Maycock

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