Beethoven, the Young Lion

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Sunday, February 03, 2013

The music that Beethoven composed at the outset of his career can at times sound like Mozart or Haydn. However, there are always events, even in these early works, that could have only been conceived by someone who was destined to change the course of his chosen art form forever.

In the two pieces on this week's program, you can find plenty of delightful, pleasant music that would not distract the listener from a civilized conversation or an elegant meal. However, whose eyebrows would not be raised by the sudden outbursts in our string trio’s first movement, or the hair-raising speed of its finale? Beethoven’s first piano trio, heard also in this concert, was incidentally the first work he felt confident enough of to publish, and therefore it bears the landmark designation of opus one, number one. It is rightly considered one of the best piano trios ever composed, and still both delights and challenges listeners with its bubbling motifs and sublime melodies. In its last movement, listen for the quirky changes of key near the conclusion, which to this day sound radical and shocking. Just imagine what listeners must have thought of this work, and its creator, in 1795.

Program details:

Beethoven: Trio in G major for Violin, Viola, and Cello, Op. 9, No. 1
— Arnaud Sussmann, violin; Paul Neubauer, viola; Nicolas Altstaedt, cello.

Beethoven: Trio No. 1 in E-flat major for Piano, Violin, and Cello, Op. 1, No. 1
— Jon Kimura Parker, piano; Cho-Liang Lin, violin; Gary Hoffman, cello.

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