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Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Piano Trio in C minor Op.1 No.3 (1793) [28:41]
Piano Trio in B flat major Op.97 Archduke (1811, rev. 1814) [40:17]
European Fine Arts Piano Trio (Tomasz Tomaszewski (violin), Pi-Chin Chien (cello), Francois Killian (piano))
rec. 29 June-1 July 2009, Ziegelhutte Appenzell, Switzerland.
GUILD GMCD7396 [69:11]

The European Fine Arts Piano Trio, formed in 1999, is a new name to me and I suspect to many others. This CD is the Second Volume of a complete set of Beethoven Piano Trios which it is claimed, “sheds new light on these works with an interpretation, which is based entirely on the notes of Beethoven’s pupil Carl Czerny”. These musicians are certainly of the top rank and play very well as a group. In addition the recording is first rate and on its own terms makes for just over an hour of fine music-making. 

Op.1 No.3 is, second to the Archduke, my favourite Beethoven Piano Trio and was later adapted by Beethoven to a String Quintet Op. 104. The European Fine Arts Piano Trio (EFAPT) starts very promisingly with the first movement which conveys the drama and enthusiasm of the young Beethoven. There are opportunities for each of the members to show their prowess whilst keeping within the parameters of a trio. The second movement is a beautiful set of variations most attractively played here. The third movement shows that even the young Beethoven had the power to stir the waters. The contrasts in this movement are well handled. The finale Prestissimo is fiery and conveys the troubled nature of the composer who had already moved the nature of the Piano Trio quite away from Haydn. All in all this is an accomplished performance, which one would be delighted to hear in concert. 

The Archduke is one of the greatest piano trios ever written and there have been a host of excellent recordings through the years. In this piece I fear the EFAPT are slightly out of their depth. They certainly play well but don’t seem to be inside the music as much as one would like. At times the music feels forced. I felt this particularly in the second movement where the magic of this sublime music was missing.
This CD is at full price and as such is uncompetitive, despite its merits; there are so many others available. For the newcomer I’d refer to Em Marshall’s review where she discusses the alternatives available.  

David R Dunsmore