So, of all the CDs I own, this is probably the one that has gotten the most play…to the point it was so used and abused i had to buy another copy. Its that good. I kid you not. Yes, I have heard many triple concertos (both recorded and live)…but nothing has topped this CD. would i use this as the standard for the piece…probably….but don’t tell the other good recordings of it in my library. they’ll get jealous. [ to be clear…this recording is artistically in the middle of the road. it isn’t crazy romantic with tons of artistic liberties nor is it incredibly conservative on period instruments. if you want that, go somewhere else. however, i think this recording succeeds in the path it intentionally chose to take. i can only hope i have as refined and strong a performance of this piece someday as is presented in this recording.]
first of all, the recording/audio quality is excellent. the trio is very well balanced with the orchestra and you can hear everything all the time. but also there is such a warmth to the sound…especially at the end of the final movement. when you hear the last chords you’ll realize it. it almost feels like you’re in the hall as you can still hear the cello and piano strings ringing into the silence at the end.
secondly, the caliber of playing of the soloists is phenomenal. this is the recording that made me a life-long fan of clemens hagen (the cellist). apart from substantial technical writing for the strings, the main difficulty with solo work for beethoven is executing what’s on the page while making it sound easy and poised…and I certainly feel hagen is beyond successful. anyone who has played the cello part (or seen the score) knows how big a beast those trill leaps are in the third movement and they feel as easy as breathing here. the tempos all feel natural…never fast or slow…the music just naturally seems to flow on its own like water.
anyway, what i also discovered today…is that you can download the entire MP3 album from amazon, @250kbps (same as iTunes) for just $4.74. OMGWTF?!?!?! An INCREDIBLE DEAL. Granted, the full album also has Beethoven’s Rondo in B-flat major as well as the entire Choral Fantasy. Its basically a steal. If the price of a latte is too much to spend on classical music, you can download each track from the concerto from Amazon for only 69 CENTS a track…so you can get the complete concerto for only $2.07.
you shouldn’t still be reading this…you should be downloading your own copy. but…if the great review and the dirt-cheap price isn’t enough…listen for yourself. I saw all three movements were on youtube…so you can listen to them below before you decide to buy. but honestly…everyone needs this in their library…so skip the coffee today and get this amazing CD. you won’t be sorry. i promise if you love beethoven and you love the triple concerto…it will soon become join your “top played”.
movement I, then II and then III.