Berolina Trio

Beethoven: Concerto for Violin, Cello & Piano, Op.56; The Creatures of Prometheus

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Save for the incongruous industrial setting in the photography, this is a near-perfect recording of Beethoven's Concerto in C major for violin, cello, and piano, Op. 56, the "Triple Concerto." The work is generally taken to be the weak stepsister among Beethoven's concertos, and the perception among both performers and audiences seems to be that the work looks back to the multiple-instrument sinfonia concertante of the 18th century, with Beethoven trying to adapt that medium to the increasingly monumental ideas of his middle period. The Berolina Trio, a young group more or less representing the cream of the crop of the German training system, more or less turns such perceptions upside down with a performance of the concerto that looks forward rather than back. Consider the opening of the finale, where the "polacca" rondo theme is introduced by each instrument in turn. The Berolina scales this passage way back and turns it almost into a Wagnerian landscape with fragments of melody rising out of the background. This approach is both daring and logical, for it adds plenty of punch to the full-scale treatment of the theme when it appears. The sprawling first movement is beautifully tied together with small details that relate to a larger whole, and the short slow movement becomes a kind of calming interlude. The degree to which the Berolina Trio drives this unique and delightful performance is shown by the performance of the ballet The Creatures of Prometheus, Op. 43, by the venerable Musikkollegium Winterthur: entirely competent, but by the numbers. No matter. With a fine acoustic environment in the Winterthur city hall, this is not only an extremely promising debut, but perhaps a standard recording of the Triple Concerto. Notes are German, French, and English.

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