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Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Piano Trios - Volume 1
Trio No. 1 in E flat major, op. 1/1 (ca 1794) [30:01]
Trio No. 5 in D major “Ghost”, op. 70/1 (1808) [25:19]
Trio in E flat major, WoO38 (ca 1790) [14:53]
TrioVanBeethoven (Clemens Zeilinger (piano), Verena Stourzh (violin), Franz Ortner (cello))
rec. September 2016, Franz Liszt Zentrum Raiding, Burgenland, Austria
Reviewed as lossless download from eClassical
GRAMOLA 99132 [70:12]

Piano Trios - Volume 1
Trio No. 5 in D major ‘Ghost’, op. 70/1 (1808) [25:35]
Trio in E flat major, WoO38 (ca 1790) [15:05]
Trio No. 1 in E flat major, op. 1/1 (ca 1794) [30:23]
TrioVanBeethoven (Clemens Zeilinger (piano), Verena Stourzh (violin), Erich Oskar Huetter (cello))
rec. April 2013, Casino Baumgarten, Vienna
Reviewed as lossless download from eClassical
GRAMOLA 98995 [71:03]

No, you are not seeing double, and no, I have not got carried away with copy/pasting. There are indeed two instances of Volume 1 of the Beethoven trios by the same trio - in name, if not personnel - on the same label.

I was exceptionally impressed by this Austrian trio first late last year with Volume 3 (review). I then went looking for earlier volumes, found the first (Version 1, that is) and was a little disappointed. Not long after, Verena Stourzh, the trio’s violinist contacted me because of my review, and mentioned in passing that the original cellist had left between Volumes 1 & 2, and that they were re-recording Volume 1! As a result, I opted not to write a review until the new version arrived, and here it is.

At this stage, somewhat surprisingly, both discs are still available to purchase. You will see that the timings are very similar - Version 1 is slightly slower in each work—but the big difference is in the much greater vibrancy and energy present in Version 2. I have already mentioned that I was a little disappointed going from Volume 3 to the first iteration of Volume 1, because it was missing a good deal of these qualities. It seems amazing that the change of cellist has made so much difference, but there it is. It is equally amazing that the label was willing to agree to this, but it has certainly been worth it musically, and, I hope, financially as well.

If you already bought the first Volume 1, then it will depend on your budget as to whether you open the wallet again. If you did not, then you really should add the new version to your collection, no matter how many renditions of these works you already have. That said, while I felt that their performances in Volume 3 were as good as any, here I think that TrioVanBeethoven are shaded by the Florestan Trio. In the “Ghost”, for example, the latter has an extra vivacity in the faster outer movements, but in the slow movement, the Austrians are quite magnificent.

The booklet notes, unsurprisingly the same in both releases, are informative and well written (and translated). The sound is much more immediate and rich in Version 2 as well.

David Barker



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