Isabelle Faust / Alexander Melnikov / Jean-Guihen Queyras

Beethoven: Piano Trios Opp. 70/2 & Op. 97 "Archduke"

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There are dozens of available recordings of Beethoven trios on the market, although not so many that avoid the combination of the two Op. 70 trios and instead combine one of them with the Piano Trio in B flat major, Op. 97 ("Archduke"). For other reasons as well, this release by the trio of violinist Isabelle Faust, cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras, and fortepianist Alexander Melnikov can be strongly recommended. Melnikov plays an 1828 fortepiano, which is slightly anachronistic and produces a sound closer to a modern piano than Beethoven would have heard. But the way Melnikov handles it, it emerges as a good compromise between a historical fortepiano sound and what modern pianists expect. Hear the murky, mysterious textures at the beginning of the Piano Trio in E flat major, Op. 70/2, which are difficult to produce on a modern piano. This trio, though unnamed, has released a number of recordings together and has stirred notice for their fresh recordings of 19th century classics, and it's no different this time around. What is lost in big Germanic melodic warmth is gained back in delicacy, elegance, and a certain unexpected humor; there's something new around every corner. Harmonia Mundi backs everything up with superb sound from the Teldex studio in Berlin.

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