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Posted February 8, 2011
Fans of chamber music are always going to come back again and again to Beethoven's 17 great string quartets (particularly his "late quartets") as classic exemplars of this intimate compositional art. But before he had mastered the quartet, these three lovely, early string trios in G major, D major and C minor (Opus 9, composed in 1797-1798) demonstrated his interest in and facility at such miniatures. While he was composing great keyboard music with one part of his brain, Beethoven could also dash off these exquisite trios, scored for violin, viola and cello, with ease. In this 2008 recording, these trios are played by Attila Falvay (violin), János Fejérvári (viola), and György Éder (cello). These three are members of the Kodály Quartet, famous for their recordings of the complete cycles of Haydn, Beethoven and Schubert for the Naxos label.
These trios may have had their inspiration from the "divertimentos" of Haydn and Mozart, but they are characteristically Beethoven, full of the dynamics and drama we associate with him. There is equality between the three instruments, though the violin floating on top grabs the most attention (particularly in the allegretto of the D major trio). The phrasing from all players is crisp, clear and unfussy, and naturally, given the nature of the compositions, uncluttered. All the way through to the stirring Finale: Presto of the C minor, it is a fine recording of the first bloom of Beethoven's genius.