Oh my is this good! Having just listened to this group's Schubert Piano Trios (on RCA), I was very interested in hearing their Beethoven. Their Schubert was well played and enjoyable, but not as distinctive as I was hoping.
Well, their Beethoven is another matter altogether. It is among the freshest, most joyful, uplifting, energetic and superbly played of any recorded set I can recall. They play with a supreme sense of spontaneity and charm, and with incisively crisp articulation which so many string players lazily gloss over in this repertoire. Hearing it played this way is illuminating and sounds so very right. One wonders why so many other trios are so relaxed and smoothly inarticulate.
Tempos are very swift, but certainly not excessively (or unnecessarily) so. They sound alert and alive, and sound exactly right (especially in the early Trios). Yet it is this very swiftness which allows these players to make music which simply dances and bubbles with a joyous expression which draws the listener in like few other groups can. And there is a sheer excitement here, too, which is often in very short supply in other readings.
As the set progresses, a sense of drama, ardor and an almost orchestral weight increases, providing extra power and gravitas to the more mature works. The Ghost, in particular, is magnificent - combining as it does the incisive articulation and energetic tempos heard in abundance in the earlier Trios, with a fervor and emotional involvement perfect for its more serious nature. It is undoubtedly one of the very best I've heard. It is at once powerful, moving and supremely exciting.
As a trio, each member of this group plays with much individuality and superb musicianship, while conforming to a unified interpretation as a whole. Significantly, it is the cello which achieves a rarefied significance in this group, much more so than usual. In the playing of any group, I almost always come away hearing one player predominate over the others, either in facility, leadership or personality. In this case, it is the superb playing of cellist Benjamin Nyffenegger. This characteristic may very well lead to my feeling of an orchestral weight to the playing, as noted above.
Fortunately for all, SONY provides superlative recorded sound - naturally detailed, full-bodied and rich within a perfectly resonant acoustic. There is also a superb sense of presence afforded the group, with a slightly forward perspective and wide dynamic range, which suits these interpretation beautifully.
This is one of the most exciting discoveries of 2017 so far, and is most certainly one of my most cherished Beethoven recordings of any kind. Do not miss it.