The Strad's experts evaluate the latest string recordings
Beethoven: Piano Trios in D major op.70 no.1 ‘Ghost’ & in B flat major op.97 ‘Archduke’
Wednesday, 01 October 2008
Live Classics LCL 806 (www.live-classics.com)
The three Eggner brothers have gradually gained an international reputation since they formed their piano trio in 1997, winning the 1999 Brahms Competition and the 2003 Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition and touring widely to critical acclaim. Their debut CD offers musically imaginative accounts of Beethoven’s two best-known piano trios, performed with a potent mixture of authority and enthusiasm.
The explosive start to op.70 no.1 sets the tone for the Eggners’ intense, dramatic and strikingly detailed reading, combining first-class individual contributions with impeccable ensemble and unanimity of interpretative approach. The clarity of pianist Christoph’s articulation is especially remarkable (though less so in the lighter-weight finale), as are also the colourful lyricism, warm tone and persuasive phrasing of his brothers’ playing, All three combine to achieve that aura of timelessness that characterises the expressive central movement, and their playing is unfailing perceptive throughout, spawning new musical insights and a wide range of contrasting emotions.
The Eggners’ gentle unfolding and nourishing of the opening movement of the ‘Archduke’ Trio are brilliantly contrived, though without the last touch of humanity and depth achieved by some more established ensembles. Nevertheless, spontaneity and warmth are combined with a carefully predetermined sense of the music’s breadth and overall architecture. The impish Scherzo and its mysterious fugato trio section are nimbly overcome, and individuals shine in the subsequent variation movement, notably Christoph (in var.1) and violinist Georg (in var.3). The rondo finale is dispatched with due energy and verve. The naturally balanced recording has an attractive combination of warmth and intimacy.
From the October 2008 issue. Subscribe to The Strad or download our digital edition as part of a 30-day free trial.