Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) - Piano Trio in C minor, Op. 1 No. 3; Piano Trio in B flat major, Op. 97, the "Archduke Trio"; Piano Trio in D major, Op. 70 No. 1, the "Ghost Trio"; Piano Trio in E flat major, Op. 70 No. 2
Smetana Trio: Jitka Čechová - piano, Jan Talich - violin, Jan Páleníček - cello
When Beethoven assigned the opus number one to his three piano trios, it was evident that the then 22-year-old composer would explore, advance and co-create the composition rules, and that he would very nearly transcend that which was comprehensible to his contemporaries. Upon hearing the first private performance of Op. 1, Joseph Haydn purportedly voiced his doubts as to whether the ordinary listener would be able to understand No. 3. Beethoven experimented with this combination of instruments too - with the form, harmonies and other facets. The Piano Trio in D major, Op. 70 No. 1 may have had its roots in sketches for an opera based on Shakespeare's drama Macbeth that Beethoven was contemplating at the time. The spectral music of the slow movement, featuring strange modulations and said to be a reworking of the Witches Chorus intended for the opera, earned the piece the nickname "Ghost Trio". In the "Archduke Trio", Op. 97, Beethoven emancipated all the instruments, providing each equal scope to apply their technical qualities and possibilities of expression. Its first performance, in April 1814, was the penultimate public concert Beethoven, at the time almost deaf, gave as a pianist. The 250th anniversary of one of the greatest composers of all time was an irresistible impulse for the Smetana Trio. Their new addition to the Beethoven discography possesses all the parameters of the ensemble's previous, highly acclaimed recordings and will undoubtedly cause quite a stir.
Beethoven's chamber music through the lens of the Smetana Trio