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Thread: Beethoven Piano Trios - Borodin Trio

  1. #16
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    Yesterday, I listened to the Storioni Trio play the first two movements of the Ghost Trio. I'd say this is the least of the performances I've heard so far. If the Swiss Piano Trio "over-dramatised" the "Ghost", the Storioni does so times 2. They resort to heavy agogic accents, overemphases, and the occasional pounding on the piano keys in the first movement (which I dislike). The slow movement doesn't fare much better, as the same thing happens, but on a more reduced scale, and they're a tad brisker than is normal, which gives the movement a slightly rushed feel, at times (on the other trio in the coupling, they strangely slow down in the first movement). Such unrestrained playing might work for Tchaikovsky's Piano Trio (or maybe Brahms)--that is, if we excuse away their approach as due to 'late Romantic' intensity and passion, but it doesn't work for the Beethoven, not in my view.

    Evidently, the Storioni Trio comes from the Evgeny Kissin school of Beethoven interpretation: who likewise automatically (& rather mindlessly) pounds the piano keys when he wants to show "emotion" in the score--thereby reducing long mercurial passages to a single dimension, & severely generalizing what is being expressed. As I listener, I pull back, rather than am drawn forward.

    In my view, Beethoven cared deeply about the delicacy and sensitivity of his piano touch and sound--while he still had his hearing. That is evident from the varied and subtle range of his early to middle piano sonatas, particularly when they are played on a less resonant and unwieldy period piano. So I can't imagine that he liked ugly, loud, intemperate playing. Therefore, I don't think he would have enjoyed the Storoni's overemphasized, outsized "late Romantic" playing any more than I have. Though granted, it may mirror how he played the piano in his later years: that is, after he'd lost most of his hearing, & was forced to pound on the keys relentlessly in order to simply hear the notes. As Schindler wrote, Beethoven's piano playing sounded magical if you were standing outside the house on the other side of the street. --Note that the source of my criticism isn't as blatant on this listening clip--as the YT sound is more subdued than on the actual hybrid SACD. But if you turn the volume up, you'll get a better idea about what bothered me in regards to this performance. (Although in the 3rd movement, the Storoni Trio becomes surprisingly more restrained & classical, which shows them at their best in Beethoven.)

    Then I listened to the Vienna Piano Trio on MDG (another hybrid SACD), who have a mostly new line up since their fine Nimbus Beethoven recordings (only pianist Stefan Mendl remains the same). To be brief, I don't think the new Vienna Trio's line up is quite as good as the old one, at least not at the time this recording was made. So I wouldn't recommend this recording either, though it is better than the Storioni's.

    This is a much preferable Beethoven disc, IMO, from the earlier line up of the Vienna Piano Trio:
    Last edited by Josquin13; May-23-2018 at 20:41.

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  3. #17
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    So I thought I’d piggyback and followup on Josquin’s wonderful commentary on the various Beethoven piano trio sets to add a few thoughts, though mostly to second his.

    But first, a couple of corrections.
    The Kempff Szeryng Fournier set has a less hard sound in the more recent remastering but is still not exceptional in any way: performances too romantic (in a Brahmsian way) with only fair sound.
    I said I liked the Cortot Thibaud Casals "Archduke" Trio and I did a lot when I first heard it. I still appreciate it but it’s not been a favorite for a while (I’ve actually listened more to the Horszowski Vegh Casals in recent years). I think I tune into it when discussing the "Archduke" as it was one of the recordings that first generated my love for chamber music. There are many better recordings of No. 7 now and my favorite, which I neglected to mention previously, is the one by the Trio di Milano: Bruno Canino, Mariana Sirbu, Rocco Filippini. The sweetest, most delicate (in a Schubertian mode), best balanced performance I’ve heard. In excellent sound as well. It’s a shame the group made so few recordings.

    I don’t have either the Trio Fontenay or the Storioni Trio in any Beethoven but I do have the former in the Dvorak and the latter in the Schubert trios. I find their playing in those pieces (rigid and inflexible for the former and overemphatic for the latter) in line Josquin’s descriptions of their playing in Beethoven.

    I’ve sampled a couple of the Borodin trios on Spotify: definitely on the heavily romantic side of things, so worth a listen but not a top contender.

    I seem to enjoy the Trio Wanderer more than Josquin does: their dark and introverted quality in spots appeals to me. In my system, the violin is at times a touch wiry but never enough to really bother me.

    I also rate the Guarneri Trio Prague highly: it’s been my favorite set. Excellent sound and playing.

    Inspired by Josquin’s descriptions, I’ve been sampling the Oliver Schnyder Trio and the Trio Elegiaque on Spotify. Both are exceptional and seem just as he has described. I’ve ordered the latter and may purchase the former as well.

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  5. #18
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    Among others, I do like the recordings that the young Barenboim made with Zukerman and Du Pre. I have also enjoyed the Op.70 and Op.97 (Archduke) that Isabelle Faust made with Jean-Guihen Queyras and Alexander Melnikov (playing a fortepiano) and the recording that the Kempf Trio made of Op.1/3 and Op.97.

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