Notes and Editorial Reviews
Few concertos register a higher ‘feel-good’ factor than Beethoven’s Triple, and I cannot think of many that have been luckier on disc. The Chung Trio opt for a keen-eared, sportive approach that contrasts with the more individualistic and marginally more refined Zukerman/Kirshbaum/ Browning production that I reviewed in June. Here, one encounters chamber music on a large scale, with the trio and orchestra playing more or less on equal terms (note how cellos and basses ‘kick in’ at 5'27'' into the first movement) and a host of nicely observed lyrical touches (for example, Myung-Wha Chung’s cello at 8'08''). A telling point of contrast occurs 4'08'' into the brief Largo (track 2), one of the few instances of tonal darkening where Chung
effects a less dramatic diminuendo among the lower strings than does Eschenbach on RCA (3'59'' on track 5 of RCA’s CD), but that somehow fits the context of his lighter-textured performance. The closing Rondo alla Polacca is swifter than Eschenbach’s by a minute, and yet both performances manage to convey a sense of exuberant release. DG’s Watford Colosseum recording is marginally warmer and less ‘open’ than RCA’s from Abbey Road No. 1 (they were recorded within a month of each other during the spring of 1996), but both are excellent.
Couplings will, as ever, prove crucial. Zukerman et al give us a loving account of Brahms’s Double Concerto, whereas the Chungs offer less generous – and musically less substantial – shorter works by Beethoven. Having said that, Kyung-Wha Chung’s violin playing commands a far wider expressive range nowadays than it did during the 1970s and 1980s. Her accounts of the two Romances are as enjoyable as any from the digital era and the little Romance cantabile for piano, flute and bassoon that ends the programme – a five-minute fragment from the 1780s – makes for a pleasant and unexpected encore. A fine Triple, then, and thoroughly recommendable if the couplings appeal.
-- Gramophone [8/1998]
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