BEETHOVEN Piano Trios: No. 1 in E?; No. 5 in D, “Ghost”; No. 4 in B?; No. 7 in B?, “Archduke” • Chung Tr • EMI 81751 (2 CDs: 125:00)
This release is a keeper. EMI continues firing budget-priced treasures at us and we’re all too keen on grabbing them for our collection. We’ve already seen a great number of gems appearing on the Gemini series, and this one is in the same league. The Chung Trio recorded these four trios in theRead more beginning of the 1990s near Paris—but strangely enough, their recording never really got the attention it deserved. That’s a shame, because these performances are among the best available.
The sound of the Chung Trio is gorgeous—full-bodied and with great care for detail. The members breathe as one and play with the greatest respect for the score. The technical virtuosity of all three artists is spectacular. And although generally there can be found some minor intonation flaws, the overall performance itself stands like a rock!
Some people find their approach to Beethoven is conservative, but I don’t think that’s really true. Intellectually, their renditions are on the highest level, and they are able to create big logical lines and phrases. Transmitting the detailed and contrasting markings in the score in a natural way is precisely what is so difficult to realize in Beethoven, and that’s exactly what the Chung family achieves here.
EMI’s sound sometimes suffers from a lack of focus; the engineers could have taken more care. Nowhere have I found a note indicating the sound is newly re-mastered, but it might have been a good idea. Although not bad at all, there simply needs to be more spatial depth to give these recordings a “splendid” note.
EMI’s older release of the trios featuring Zuckerman, Du Pré, and Barenboim may be familiar to many. They contain a rare, youthful freshness. However, you may not like Zuckerman’s overly sweet sound or Du Pré’s exuberant expressiveness; but they’re still very fine.
If you’re like me and really enjoy an intelligently mastered Beethoven with gorgeous phrasing and singing, you must get acquainted with these discs.
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