Already established within Viennese culture by Haydn and Mozart, the trio genre was taken to new limits by the inexhaustible imagination of Beethoven's genius: "a serene joy come from an unknown world", was E. T. A. Hoffmann's reaction on hearing the Trio in D major Op.70 no.1. The Wanderers have ventured into the Beethoven piano trios and mastered every inch of its topography. What better guide could there be for us to follow with total confidence, in their 25th anniversary year?
The Wanderers include the early, opus-less E flat major work, a movement in B flat, the clarinet trio in its violin transcription and two sets of variations, but it is the canonical masterpieces the three of Op 1, two of Op 70 and the splendidly isolated Archduke that are the heart of the matter here. Rarely have the first two trios sounded so witty, as if the young Beethoven were throwing down a gauntlet to his teacher, Haydn (who is said to have disliked the third of the set, in turbulent C minor) and saying: Beat this. The eerie textures and bizarre harmonies of the Ghost trio s famous largo assai make the music sound avant-garde, while the Archduke is a magnificent performance of spirituality and high drama. Unmissable. --Hugh Canning, Sunday Times, 8 April 2012