April, 2013

The Strad recommends...

BEETHOVEN Concerto for violin, cello and piano in C major op.56, Piano Trio in E flat major op.1 no.1

Claremont Trio, San Francisco Ballet Orchestra / Martin West


A well-integrated ensemble in both concerto and chamber contexts

Martin West secures incisive playing from the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra in the opening tutti of the 'Triple' Concerto, a work that ought by rights to be a real headache to balance. Yet Beethoven's skilful writing, pitching the cello in the high registers and deploying the strings as a block against the piano, works brilliantly. This performance is very much a family affair, with the cellist and violinist of the Claremont Trio, Emily and Julia Bruskin, being twins and moreover having well-blended instruments (1795 Lupot violin and 1849 Vuillaume cello). But Andrea Lam is no less impressive, providing exquisitely light yet intelligently voiced piano playing. Dialogues are well rehearsed and characterisation sharply defined, with a warm recording to cap it all. The slow movement's vintage melodies are
sumptuously delivered here, and the sudden transition to the finale is handled with seamless control.

Beethoven's early E flat major Trio, which loyally owes much to his teacher Haydn, displays the Claremont players in fine fettle, demonstrating similar qualities to the concerto in terms of the players' refined ensemble and imaginative delineation of the main melodic material. The slow movement has many moments of eloquence, and the opening Allegro boasts light and sensitively integrated ensemble. With performances of this quality, the Claremont Trio can justifiably be considered one of America's finest young chamber groups.

-Joanne Talbot