DEFINITIVE RECORDINGS
LUDWIG BEETHOVEN - PIANO TRIO IN C MINOR


LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN - PIANO TRIO IN C MINOR - PIANO TRIO IN D MAJOR (Ghost) - ANDREAS STAIER (Pianoforte) - DANIEL SEPEC (Violin) - JEAN-GUIHEN QUEYRAS (Cello) - HARMONIA MUNDI 901955

Although he had written a fair amount of music prior to 1793, Beethoven decided to make his Piano Trio in C minor his official Opus 1, which is an important moment in a composer's life, because it usually means the start of a series of published and catalogued works, and therefore indicates that you as a composer are convinced that your work will stand the scrutiny of the listening public, and that you have something different and important to communicate through your music.

Well, this Opus 1 by Beethoven stands strong on all counts. It is full of conviction and purpose, is clearly different from other similar works being written at the time, and is definitely a very important musical statement. To prove this point, you will also find on this cd a Piano Trio in G major Op. 65 by Hummel, a contemporary of Beethoven. Now compare the Op. 1 to the Op. 65 and you should, as I have, notice that although the Hummel is a well crafted, polished, structured and true to classical form piece of music, it pales in comparison to Beethoven's much younger effort.

Now, fast forward about 20 years to Beethoven's "Ghost" trio, the Opus 70. Here is a composer not only convinced of his genius and talent, but convinced of his mastery of the art. This trio stands as one of the best examples of chamber music ever written. A few seconds into the first movement should suffice to convince anyone of that, but the slow movement in particular is a masterpiece in itself.

The 3 musicians on this recording have already proven that, individually, they are masters of their instruments, so combined here into a trio, they create a force to be reckoned with. The instruments they play are all period instruments from Beethoven's lifetime, and the quality and clarity of sound they produce are unbelievable. If this is how the first performance of these works sounded, with Beethoven himself at the piano, it must have left an overwhelming impression on everyone attending the soirée.

There are many, many fine recordings of Beethoven's piano trios available, such as the Florestan trio, the Beaux-Arts trio, and of course the Barenboim, Zukerman and Du Pré captivating account, but I believe this new recording to be the most authentic, full of conviction, important musical statement to come along in a while. Strong enough to make you time travel back to 1793.

Jean-Yves Duperron