BEETHOVEN: 3 String Trios, Op. 9 – Kandinsky String Trio – Arte Nova

by | Oct 18, 2005 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

BEETHOVEN: 3 String Trios, Op. 9 – Kandinsky String Trio – Arte Nova ANO 927760  79:30  (Distrib. Allegro) ****:

The three string trios that Beethoven composed 1797-1798 represent a
concerted effort on his behalf to absorb the Viennese style of Mozart
and Haydn and adjust the demands of string instrumentation to his own
burgeoning personality. A major influence seems to have been Mozart’s
great Divertimento in E-flat Major, K. 563, a model of excellence which
exerts its own power to this day. Beethoven was obviously creating a
series of working exercises for his excursions into the string quartet
medium, while at the same time constructing pieces whose quality raised
its own genre to a new level of expertise.

The balance of lyric and dramatic energies, always a Beethoven
trademark, is already evident in the Trio in G Major, where Beethoven
is generating melodies across several octaves, and the Adagio ma non
tanto e cantabile is quite exalted, featuring two moving cantilena
sections. The Scherzo deftly moves among quickly modulating keys, and
the Presto finale utilizes Haydn’s trick of combining rondo with sonata
form. Wit and facility of design already point to a significant musical
mind. The Trio in D might take its impetus from Mozart’s Quartet in D,
K. 499, but the tone of this divertimento is somewhat elusive. The
first movement plays with metrics, while the Allegretto is sensitive in
the manner of the Bach sons. The reliance on the interval of a third,
along with a rustic feeling, makes the Rondo Beethoven’s own.

The C Minor Trio, like all of Beethoven’s efforts in this histrionic
key, is dramatically expressive. The Adagio con espressione in C Major
offers some palliative for the turbulence of the first movement,
although it too bursts into emotional upheaval. The breathless Scherzo
leads to another metrically intricate Presto whose mood, again, makes
an uneasy peace which may be close to the resigned tragedy of the late
quartets. The Kandinsky Trio, captured in brilliant sound from their
Hanover, Germany recording studio July and September 2001, make
eminent, elegant sense of this early Beethoven oeuvre whose
instrumental mastery belies the relative youth of the composer.

–Gary Lemco

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