Piano Trio in E flat Op.70/2

Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven (b. 1770 - d. 1827)
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Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven (b. 1770 - d. 1827)

Performance date: 04/07/2016

Venue: Bantry Library

Composition Year: 1808

Duration: 00:27:46

Recording Engineer: Richard McCullough, RTÉ lyric fm

Instrumentation: vn, vc, pf

Instrumentation Category:Trio

Artists: Nurit Stark - [violin]
Cédric Pescia - [piano]
Monika Leskovar - [cello]

Beethoven’s first published work was a set of three
ground-breaking piano trios, which effectively established a completely new
conception of the combination of violin, cello and piano. It had begun in the
eighteenth century as a variant of the sonata for violin and keyboard, with the
violin sharing the melody with the keyboard’s right hand, but with bass line in
the keyboard’s left hand, relatively weak in early fortepianos, reinforced by
the cello. Haydn’s thirty or so piano trios are written in this way; and the
same approach underlies Mozart’s trios, although the violin is given a greater
share of the melodic lead and the cello is later allowed a modicum of
independence. Beethoven goes much further, completely unshackling the cello
from its subservient role, and creating works on a totally different scale to
anything that had been written either Haydn or Mozart.

This Trio has a mysterious slow introduction that
inserts itself several times into the melodious and cheerful Allegro that
follows as a counterpoint to the unrestrained optimism of that movement. This
work dates from the same year as the A major Cello Sonata so we can expect
broad flowing melodies and an indulgent attitude towards big tunes, giving them
plenty of space to develop. This is very much the case in the delicious
Allegretto which is a set of double variations, treating alternately one theme
in C major and another in C minor. As the movement proceeds he treats the plan
with great freedom, ending with a long C minor coda based largely on the first
theme with its distinctive Scotch snap rhythm.

The third movement is not quite a minuet nor a scherzo
more a lyrical intermezzo of the kind that was later favoured by Brahms with yet
another of Beethoven’s captivating tunes. The trio section first pits the
strings in three-part harmony with the violin double-stopping against the piano
in four-bar exchanges, and continues with an episode of magically shifting
harmonies, decorated by the piano at the very top of its compass. Beethoven
clearly enjoyed his creation for he brings it around twice.

The finale has another brilliant idea given plenty of
exposure clad in lots of unexpected keys and generating huge amounts of energy
and giving the movement the kind of breadth we expect from works written in
this period of Beethoven’s life, it just gets better and better.