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Beethoven: Complete String Trios [Box set]

Arthur Grumiaux Audio CD

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Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Glorious! Beethoven 30 Mar 2005
By M. Naughtin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
If you were to ask any composer from Mozart to the present, the task they would be most reluctant to tackle would be to write a trio for three stringed instruments.

The string quartet has long been considered to be the 'rite of passage'--the medium in which a composer proves he (or she) has 'chops'--the complete mastery of technique (harmony, counterpoint, voice-leading, etc.)--to write successfully for any combination of instruments .

But the string trio presents a unique challenge. With only three instruments (and six pitches available at any time), one must create a complete sonic universe with all the richness and diversity that will keep a listener entranced from beginning to end of a 20-minute piece. Beethoven evidently was inspired by this challenge and created five early masterpieces for this ensemble that have never been surpassed in their imagination and superb craftsmanship. They are among the best things he ever wrote.

It is an intellectual and sensual pleasure to hear Grumiaux lead his colleagues through these rich musical landscapes. I've always loved his elegant, musical playing (I'm a violinist) and consider him to be the ideal interpreter for this repertoire. His colleagues in the trio are 'molto simpatico' and the ensemble and phrasing are impeccable. Janzer (viola) and Czako (cello) don't quite match Gruimiaux's buttery, seamless sound in their solos, but the overall feeling is one of committed, intense music-making that results in performances that set a bench-mark for future ensembles.

Matthew Naughtin
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Grumiaux Trio will make you smile. 25 Jan 2000
By Hezy Amiel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I have first met withe Grumiaux Trio when I randomly bught vol.12 of Philips' "the best of the complete mozart edition". Now that I kenw I like their playing, I bought "Beethoven: The Complete String Trios". This is a digitally remastered recording from 1967/68. While the sound is not as sharp as in a digital recording, it is remarkably clear and noise free, thus anabeling an enjoyable listening. As for the preformance: The Grumiaux Trio play with happy spirit and joy, making these early beethoven works idial music for the early hours of the day (allthough I admit I'v missed a few sleeping hours, for once I start listening to these CDs I can't stop, no mater how late it gets:) It was noted that some times Arthur Grumiaux's violin, shades the other members of the trio. Great chamber music should be a dialog between equals, even if the violin is the leader. Still this is a wanderfull set of CD's, that i can only recomand.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Playing from the Grumiaux Trio 1 May 2007
By Ross Kennett - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This is another great recording from the late 1960s re-released on the Philips Duo label at bargain price, they provide an excellent source of the chamber music of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert. The string trio has been a much neglected music form, the only ones of note from this period have been the great Divertimento K563 by Mozart, these 5 from the young Beethoven, and one from Schubert. And they are all fine compositions, very well worth a listen. These from a 20 year old Beethoven are lyrical and joyfull. Despite the age of the recording the sound is very acceptable, and the performance from the Grumiaux Trio is superb.

As this recording is about 40 years old it must be expected that there are better performances available, but I would suggest that you don't worry about that, this one is very very good, and very cheap. Without hesitation, 5 stars.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly enjoyable! 17 Sep 2007
By Dermot Elworthy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
The string trio is a wonderful medium but one for which it is not easy to write. The two middle parts of a quartet, inter alia, provide weight and harmony and are able, in some measure, to "hide" in the general ensemble but in the case of the trio, the only middle part is much more exposed and has to provide a contribution of appreciably greater musical weight and consequence. Perhaps this explains the paucity of literature available in this particular genre (although it gives no clue as to why both Haydn and Beethoven wrote for this combination very early in their careers and before tackling the quartet). However, the five trio examples written by the young Beethoven are real crackers and the Grumiaux/Janzer/Czako ensemble play them to perfection, in my view.

Lighter and more outgoing in character than the succeeding quartets, the trios have a youthful liveliness and a certain ebullience not found to the same degree in the later, perhaps more introverted chamber works. They are superb works in their own right and certainly do not convey the impression that they might be a "dry run" for something on Beethoven's musical horizon. All the trios, save one, are in a major key and the exception soon moves from C minor to the major.

Despite, or perhaps because of, being forty years old, the Philips recording is very good indeed. It might lack the edginess of digital processing (which I don't care for in any event) but the warmth of this production is very much in sympathy with the intimate nature of the work as well as the players, particularly Baron Grumiaux who was always a very polished performer.

Highly recommended.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An essential Beethoven! 11 Dec 2007
By Hiram Gomez Pardo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
A simple glimpse around the fact Beeethoven had just written String Trios until the Op. 9 arouses the impression he found in his vertiginuous growing up as composer, this musical form had already fullfilled his expectations.

Perhaps the fact his symphonic way of composing was -since those ages- a new conceptual paradigm, and that's why he found in the Quartet genre a much more expansive and even balanced device to express his musical lexicon.

But the most important fact to underline is those early compositions preserve (as his first Piano Sonatas), the seminal seed of his outburts musical powers.

There are relatively few admirable performances to take into account, and these versions are among the most distinguished, refined and expressive.

If you really want to have the basic elements of the immense corpus of distinguished works of the beloved Bonn's son, you should not miss these fabulous performances.
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