The Strad Issue: January 2012
Description: Beethoven trio performances marked by skill and ebullience
Musicians: Trio Ex Aequo
Composer: Beethoven

The members of Trio Ex Aequo have mixed credentials in this genre, but their performances display a striking unanimity and maturity. This results in pleasing and perceptive chamber music making, undertaken with a potent mixture of authority and enthusiasm. They unfold the detail of the expansive opening movement of Beethoven’s ‘Archduke’ Trio carefully and gradually, leaving plenty in reserve for later events, and their scherzo positively tiptoes through the Viennese tulips, contrasted by its trio’s darker, chromatic mood. They give a logical sense of flow to the Andante cantabile’s four variations and dispatch the rondo finale with all the requisite verve and aplomb.

The players intensify the tonal drama of op.1 no.3 by realising Beethoven’s extreme dynamic contrasts with substantial fidelity and adopting a taut ensemble style with plenty of attack and expressive breadth. They establish brisk, flowing tempos for the first two movements, sharply characterising the Andante’s variations. Their menuetto has a somewhat sinister aspect, lightened by the tripping descending piano scales of the trio, and they capture the virile Beethovenian spirit of the finale with infectious enthusiasm, sinew and drive. The ambience of the warm recorded sound is convincing and the balance not too close to rob the interpretation of its full dynamic range.