Each installment of The Florestan Trio's Beethoven Piano Trio cycle was rapturously received by critics around the world. Reissued here as a specially-priced box-set, this superb series of benchmark recordings should not be missed. Across all the discs in this series, the playing of The Florestan Trio is particularly memorable for its lyricism, luminous timbre and firm sense of rhythm.
Reviews of some of the original recordings that make up this set.
It should come as no surprise to those familiar with the Florestan Trio's growing list of recordings for Hyperion that this pairing of Beethoven's Op. 70 trios is first-rate. The better-known D majorRead more "Ghost" trio typifies the group's overall approach--lean sonorities, propulsive fast movements, graceful slow ones, and impetuous intensity. The Largo, whose eerie opening gives the work its nickname, goes at a flowing tempo yet retains its magic. In the E-flat major trio, the Florestan stresses Beethoven's abundant harmonic surprises and abrupt mood changes, breaking ruminative passages with violent string chords. Haydn's influence permeates the piece, with melodies reminiscent of the older composer--along with other Haydn-esque harmonic and developmental surprises--popping up throughout. Schubert is here too, in the remarkable Allegretto with its uncanny anticipation of the melodies the young Viennese composer would write 20 years later.
The charming filler is the B-flat Allegretto, a short earlier work that gets a mellow performance as convincing as the more stringent readings of the bigger trios. Hyperion's sound is a bit distant, but a volume boost makes it more immediate, especially benefiting Susan Tomes' piano, whose bass murmurings in the "Ghost" Largo become more clear and defined. Perhaps best of all is the indication that this is just the first of a complete Beethoven Piano Trio series from the Florestans. Even so, highly recommendable as this disc is, it comes up against strong competition in these works. Aside from such classics as the vintage Serkin/Busch and Casals performances, there are several excellent ones in stereo, with the Stern Trio (Sony) and the Trio Parnassus (MDG) leading the pack.
– Dan Davis, ClassicsToday.com [3/29/2003]
Volume 4 of the Florestan Trio's traversal of the complete Beethoven Piano Trios is as good as its predecessors, which is to say that it's now the preferred version of these works on disc. The CD opens with the early Op. 1 No. 3 Trio, but there's nothing "early" or demurely "Classical" about this large-scale, volatile composition, which is full of surprises that still shock. The Florestans lend the opening its full measure of mystery, and the passionate outbursts that interrupt passages hinting of tragedy and longing are flawlessly accomplished without ever sounding fragmented or sectional. The flowing tempo the ensemble adopts for the Adagio cantabile has a feeling of inevitability about it, as do the gear shifts in the opening movement, the explosiveness of the third movement, and the rich variety of the finale.
The other big work here is the Op. 11 trio, originally written for clarinet, whose modified part was given to the violin in this alternative version made by Beethoven to increase sales. In contrast to the Op. 1 No. 3, it's a relaxed, often downright genial piece. Nevertheless, the Florestan finds some fires to light in the opening Allegro, and the playing is wonderfully soulful in the Adagio movement. The finale is a set of variations on a jaunty number from a now-forgotten comic opera by Joseph Weigl, L'amor marinaro (Love at Sea), each variation beautifully delineated by the group.
Sandwiched between the larger works is the Variations in E-flat major Op. 44, on a banal theme from Carl von Dittersdorf's opera Das rote Käppchen (The little red cap). It's another example of Beethoven spinning gold, or at least silver, from base materials. Although not top-drawer Beethoven, it's full of surprising twists and turns. You can imagine the composer writing it with a smile on his face, and the Florestan Trio plays it that way too.
Throughout, the ensemble's playing is superbly accomplished. Susan Tomes' pianism is a real treat, with idiomatic phrasing, precisely articulated rhythm, and nicely rounded tone at all dynamic levels. That her string partners are in her league says much about the group's talents. The engineers provide life-like sound, though it takes a volume boost to convert Anthony Marwood's violin tone from wiry to full-bodied.
– Dan Davis, ClassicsToday.com [2/25/2005] Read less
Piano Trio no 7 "Archduke": III. Andante cantabile ma però con moto
Piano Trio no 3: I. Allegro con brio
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Great PerformancesMay 31, 2012By M. Bishop (Clackamas, OR)See All My Reviews"These albums were the first that I had purchased of the Floristan Trio, and they were well worth the money paid. In my music library I have works by the Amadeus Quartet, the Pavel Haas Quartet, and the Beaux Arts Trio. These albums are simply great performances, done with precision and elan. I second the reviews stating that the Florestan Trio's work here are the best renditions of Beethoven's piano trios. The richness of sound is unbeatable, and every beginning and ending is well done. You don't want to miss this."Report Abuse