The Beethoven Archduke Piano Trio Op.97 and Piano Trio Op.1 No.3 on this SACD-DSD recording from Bis, clears its way right to the top few in an already crowded competition and not only because of its sonic supremacy but also because of its intense, emotional, yet agile reading.
Of the few contenders here, is the Oistrakh/Oborin/Knuevitzky - Listened to the original edition EMI-Columbia Magic-note SAX 2352 Stereo LP, and to the Casals/Horoszowski original edition "Hi-Fi Stereo" LP (Philips 1959).
Sonically, both these elderly recordings shows their age and limitation.
Reading wise, the Casals (live recording) has a certain degree of excitement and nervousness in the playing that found their way into the master tape along-side with somewhat of an uncertain spots here and there - comparable to a wagon that is in-equally pulled...
The Oistrakh/Oborin has a much more smooth sailing and gets a better focused violin and cello tone while the piano is somewhat recessed. Yet, it has that full bodied Oistrakh tone and the capturing mannerism of playing.
Compared to both these giants/veteran recordings, the Bis offers a better "balanced" (bland) approach where non of the three players dominates the scene yet all of the players are pulling ahead limpidly, and at times give-in to a passage of nostalgic or ponderous mood.
The recording was made at the Academy of Music, Stockholm in 2003, and is well engineered acoustically and with a correct amount of focus and with the right reverberation and decay time together with a high accuracy of the Steinway piano tone and decay time.
The violin, a rare 'Magini Brescia' 1600 instrument, has a special 'sweetness' to its tone without gray string pull to it. The Cello sounds equally sweet and dynamic (the instrument is of an unknown brand).
Both the SACD-DSD and the two channel stereo layer are sonically exceptional in their focus and in their clear, sweet sound presentation.
Switching to and fro between the two layers reveals that both the stereo and the multichannel layers retain the same amount of focus, ambiance and sound-stage spread where the instruments are not at your-face and are not captured from a far obscure distanced horizon...
One should be able to live very happily with the stereo layer fidelity of this recording if one has no surround playback system; with a surround playback system there is a discreet added hall ambiance well judged by the engineering team without that the surround channels attracts attention and distracts from the musical pleasure presented here on this gem of a SACD.