For years, critics have been putting down Beethoven's Concerto for Violin, Cello, Piano, and Orchestra in C Major, Op. 56 "Triple Concerto" as being lightweight fluff, and for as many years audiences have been loving the work. Of course, it takes a talented group of musicians to pull it off successfully, and on this 2016 Sony release we get some of the best musicians in the business with Giuliano Carmignola, violin; Sol Gabetta, cello; and Dejan Lazic, piano; with Maestro Giovanni Antonini leading the Basil Chamber Orchestra.
Although Beethoven's Triple Concerto (1804) never impressed critics as much as his violin and piano concertos did, concertgoers have long enjoyed it for its delicious melodies and memorable tunes, especially its soaring first movement and its sweet Largo. The music, as you probably know, is a kind of orchestrated chamber trio, a sinfonia concertante where the several instruments oppose the orchestra and each other, a style that had passed out of vogue by Beethoven's time but one into which Beethoven injected new life.
As I say, it takes three really accomplished players to set any new recording of the Triple Concerto apart, and Carmignola, Gabetta, and Lazic accomplish this with their easy demeanor. Their rendition is expressive and happy without being in the least bit over driven, fast, or rushed. Indeed, their performance styles seem perfectly matched to produce optimal results, the suave, subtle nuances of their playing effectively setting off each performer from the others.
While it perhaps doesn't have the authoritative, magisterial stamp of Oistrakh, Rostropovich, and Richter, the present rendition is surely as listenable, as pleasurable, and as carefree in its own way.
Now, since the Triple Concerto is not a very long work, the album's producers have filled out the disc with three other things, Beethoven overtures, which bookend the concerto. The Creatures of Prometheus, the Egmont, and the Coriolan Overtures sound elegant, polished, and heroic. They make lively accompaniment to the main show.
Andreas Neubronner and Markus Heiland of Tritonus Musikproduktion produced, mastered, and edited the album, recording it at the Philharmonie, Luxembourg in June 2013. The sound is reasonably dynamic, both in its range from softest to loudest notes and in its impact. Yet it doesn't give up much in the way of a natural response, either; it provides a warm, smooth sonic impression, set in a modestly resonant acoustic. The instruments appear well balanced with one another and with the orchestra, not too close or too highlighted, so the whole production is lifelike, even if it never achieves an ultimate transparency.
To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click on the forward arrow: