Beethoven: String Trios 3-5 - Trio Goldberg
Ars Produktion ARS 38 373
Classical - Chamber
Beethoven: String Trios 3-5
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Review by Adrian Quanjer - January 27, 2024
This is the third release of the Goldberg Trio on the ARS Produktion label and it is as good as the previous ones. It is another proof that “whatever the Goldbergs touch will turn into Gold!”, although this time there is formidable competition from Trio Zimmermann on BIS (Beethoven: String Trios 3-5 - Trio Zimmermann). A difficult choice? Let’s put it to the test.
Prima facia one tends to believe that Trio Zimmermann, consisting of Frank Peter Zimmermann (violin), Antoine Tamestit (viola), and Christian Poltéra (cello), all three eminent soloists in their own right, can hardly be bettered. And I, too, count each of them to the top echelon of my favourite musicians. However, being famous individually does not automatically mean being good as a trio. That said, we must recognise that Trio Zimmermann has earned many laurels and very positive reviews on this site. But so has the Goldberg Trio, having, furthermore, been honoured with the “Preis der Deutschen Schallplartten Kritik” (German Critics‘ Award) in a strong field of nominations.
In the final analysis, after putting it to the test in direct comparison, and spending much time pondering over the various elements that could tip the balance one way or the other, I had to admit that on the grounds of their personal, empathetic passion the Goldbergs won my day by a small margin. From a purely professional point of view, the Zimmermanns have the upper hand, but on a more human scale, the Goldberg Trio left me with a profound feeling of delight. Why?
Unlike Zimmermann, where perfection and virtuosity are the means to impress and to draw unmitigated admiration, the Goldbergs, though technically just as perfect, aim to reach out to the listener, conveying the intrinsic value of the music, by taking more time to allow the audience to ‘see’ the beauty of the score.
As always, there may be differing opinions, but for me, it is clear that with this Beethoven release the Goldbergs (Liza Kerob, Principal Soloist; Federico Hood, 1st Solo Viola; and Thierry Amadi, 1st Solo Cello of the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra) give ample proof of belonging to the exclusive group of top string trios.
At the end of the day, it may well be the sound quality, so close to the heart of the hi-res community, that tips the balance in favour of the Goldbergs. Although some may find the surround somewhat too pronounced, it does give the instruments a distinct and effective degree of air. The violin is not aggressive, the viola is warm, and at the other end, one hears the cello playing with superb, life-like stringed tones, as one gets only in the very best engineered recordings. A sound picture superior to that of the competition.
The liner notes are commensurate to the quality of playing and are available in German, English and French.
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