Beethoven's complete Piano Trios in three concerts
To us, our namesake signifies not mere responsibility, but inspiration.
What luxury, being able to plough through the musical genre of the piano trio on Beethoven’s trail.
Three ground-breaking compositions for piano trio – the three trios op. 1, each in symphony-length, define both his coming out as a composer and his first serious composition. This is how Beethoven, a young composer recently arrived in Vienna, explicitly states that from now on new standards in chamber music will prevail.
Having literally insulted the audience as “pigs” for not giving music sufficient attention, these three trios impressively show that Beethoven is not willing to give in to the usual practices of the auditorium. He challenges audiences and interpreters alike, whilst accepting that he may be pushing too far. These three long trios – ninety minutes of music all together – are to be his first musical business card. Strangely enough, they went down like anything with the conservative Viennese public, which used to revert to the following saying: “There’s no need to change anything, because if there was, we would have done so long ago.”
The monumental “Archduke Trio” op. 97 is at the other end of our exploration of Beethoven’s complete trio œuvre, which has just been released by Gramola as a box of 4 CDs. The premiere of this last trio, with Beethoven himself at the piano, marked the end of the composer’s career as a concert pianist, due to his increasing deafness and the painful awareness that audiences no longer seemed to appreciate him as the interpreter of his own work.
This last trio therefore meant a double farewell – to the genre of the piano trio as such as well as to the stage. It may well be that it was because of this wistful association that Beethoven would never again compose a piano trio. And this may just be the reason for why this spherical and heavenly, yet at the same time rough and earthly “Archduke Trio” has become such a myth.
Beethoven’s trio œuvre ranges from the beginnings in “opus 1”, to the melancholy farewell of a grandiose masterpiece.
All of which are more than valid reasons for us to love and cherish Beethoven’s piano trios – they are to us obligation, curious desire and guiding meridian in our exploration of the trio œuvre as such.
Trio op. 1/1
Trio WoO 38
Trio op. 97 „Archduke-Trio“
Trio op. 1/2
Trio op. 70/2
„Kakadu-Variations“, op. 121a
Trio op. 70/1 „Ghost-Trio“
Trio Movement Hess 48
Trio op. 1/3
Variations op. 44
Trio Movement WoO 39
Trio op. 11 „Gassenhauer-Trio“