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Brahms: Complete Trios

4.4 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

  • Brahms: Complete Trios
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  • Brahms: Complete Piano Quartets
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  • Schumann: The Complete Piano Trios / Piano Quartet, Op. 47 / Piano Quintet, Op. 44
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Product Details

  • Performer: Beaux Arts Trio, Menahem Pressler, György Sebök, Daniel Guilet, Bernard Greenhouse, et al.
  • Composer: Johannes Brahms
  • Audio CD (August 17, 1993)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Philips
  • ASIN: B00000416K
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,707 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Christopher Smith on June 15, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Brahms's chamber music has become a growing source of delight for me, and I'm increasingly coming to see it as his greatest achievement. He did everything, from string sextets to clarinet sonatas, and it was with his chamber music that he truly relaxed and let his gift for lyricism roam free. If his symphonic works were driven by the need to come to terms with and transcend Beethoven, then his chamber music has Schubert's expansive generosity.

These trios are a great introduction, since they are drawn from every stage of Brahms's career. The Beaux Arts Trio offer definitive proof that it's best to go for an established ensemble rather than the superstar collaborations that record companies dream up to try and up their sales figures. There's an instinctive dialogue going on between these three veterans, and Brahms's two later piano trios are exquisitely done. Their approach is relaxed, with none of the reversion to manic keyboard hammering that seems to characterize many interpretations of Brahms's piano trios/quartets/ quintet. Brahms wrote his chamber pieces for clarinet toward the end of his life, and the Beaux Art Trio's interpretation is appropriately, wistfully autumnal. Like Brams's other clarinet music, this piece is very special, and this is the most appealing interpretation I've heard. As for the horn trio, which isn't done by the Beaux Arts Trio, but features an ensemble led by Arthur Grumiaux, they just don't play music this way anymore.

My only reservation has to do with the fact that the Beaux Arts Trio omit the first movement exposition repeat from the opus 8. I miss the "heavenly length" of this most Schubertean of Brahms's works, where Brahms's lyricism is on full display. The repeat included op. 8 interpretation I really like is the (unfortunately quite expensive) Borodin Trio set, but if I were you I'd still buy this Beaux Arts release, simply because everything else is done so superbly.
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Format: Audio CD
Some of Brahms' best work was in chamber music, and trios like no.3 represent some of the best music for piano, violin and 'cello. The treat here is to have some rarer pieces for horn and clarinet trios. Even the "immature" first trio opens beautifully, and there really is two-CD's worth of material here to offer many rewarding listens.
The Beaux Arts recording is superior to that on offer from EMI, played by the great Ashkenazy, Harrell and Perlman, but lacking the cohesion of these experienced and practically conjoined musicians. Also, it does not have the "bonus" trios.
A great introduction to Brahms, and practically essential for any fans of the grand old German.
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Format: Audio CD
After listening to the first movement of the C major I'd agree that it's a shade brisk and perfunctory. I've now listened to this performance of the clarinet trio many times. This is a piece that made no impression on me until I listened repeatedly and studied the score. I now realize that, while it's not a perfectly satisfying masterpiece, it has a subdued, elusive beauty, plus it's a remarkably concise piece. I have a theory that it was written in memory of Schumann. Some reasons: 1) the key of A minor was a favorite of Schumann's, 2) the opening melody for cello resembles the opening theme of Schumann's cello concerto (also in A minor), 3) the climax of the coda of the first movement (bars 194-200) has several Schumannesque descending fifths in the melody, 4) the whole piece has a feeling of sad reminiscence such as one can imagine Brahms would feel late in his own life thinking back on his friend, now dead thirty years. The clarinet trio is played very beautifully with no hint of the perfunctory quality mentioned above in connection with the C major trio. This is great music that deserves to be studied and thought about, not just played in the background.
Addendum (10/2002)...I just want to take back what I said about the C major being perfunctory. I've had many hours of enjoyment from all tracks on these discs, particularly the C major and C minor piano trios and the clarinet trio. That business about "perfunctory" was a very superficial initial reaction. These guys play with fire and sweep...crack open a beer and crank it up!
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Format: Audio CD
Christopher Smith is in error in saying that the Borodin Trio's performance of Brahms's B Major Piano Trio, on Chandos CHAN 8334/5, is the original version. The Borodin Trio recorded only the revised version (unless they made a second recording I'm unaware of). So far as I can tell from the Amazon Web listings and old Penguin Guides, the original version has been recorded by the following groups: Odeon Trio, Trio Opus 8, Altenberg Trio, and Parnassus Trio. The last two groups recorded both versions. Apart from listening, one can tell from the movement designations which version one is dealing with. For instance, the first movement was originally allegro con moto and was revised to allegro con brio, and the third movement was changed from adagio non troppo to adagio. Also, I think you will find that the "great chunks" Brahms removed in his revision are from the first and third movements, not the second (scherzo) movement. Incidentally, I would have preferred not to rate this recording, as my purpose is only to make a correction and the Beaux Arts Trio recording I have is another version with a different violinist, but Amazon's system would not let me do so without including a rating, so I have provided a rating that corresponds to the average of the other ratings.
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