Beethoven: Symphony No.6 (arr. Shai Wosner), Piano Trio op.1 no.3
Emanuel Ax (piano), Leonidas Kavakos (violin), Yo-Yo Ma (cello) (Sony)
(scroll down for English review)
This “Million Dollar Trio” of Ax, Kavakos and Ma gave us yet another Beethoven album before 2022 closes. The arrangement of the Pastoral Symphony was again made for this trio of superstars, this time by the Israeli pianist Shai Wosner. Contrary to my expectation the piano part is economical and concise enough that the violin and cello parts sometimes sound like accompaniments, especially in the first movement. However I was rather pleased by such unidiomatic sound, perhaps due to Ax’s articulate but highly singing playing.
In the more relaxed second and fifth movements the strings had a heavier role, soaringly singing the melodies. The arranger made the right decision of not giving us a noisy fourth movement, the storm. It’s just senseless to conjure the sound of a shrieking orchestra with just three players. Wosner instead concentrated on tension and evoked that with incessant tremolos.
Unlike the first album our superstars included an authentic Beethoven trio this time. No, no Ghost, no Archduke, but the third of the op.1 trios. Once again contrary to my expectation Ax toned down the concertante-like piano part and yielded Kavakos and Ma. These two really deserved credit in rendering those rather simple-sounding melodies as if they’re made in heaven. But taken as a whole, this reading was too classical, too Haydnesque to me and I miss the rebellious element of Beethoven in his debut work as a full-fledged composer. Nevertheless I look forward to further Beethoven releases from this trio.