ARTEK RECORDINGS CD18: The Peabody Trio Beethoven Trios
"Here is some of the most accomplished Beethoven trio playing that I have heard in many a year. The Peabody ensemble, which has been going for about 15 years, is clearly among the best trios on the scene.
"Having listened to the 'Ghost' quite a few times recently, I began with the E flat major Trio. Via one of Judith Sherman's straightforwardly clear recordings, I immediately registered delightful touches from pianist Seth Knopp and noted how well violinist Violaine Melancon and cellist Natasha Brofsky combine.
"The two string players both have distinctive tones but make a point of matching their phrasing where necessary. They also know when to get out of each other's way - this goes for the pianist too. In fact, although the playing bursts with personality, it is never selfish. These people have studied the music closely and they always put it first. Shaping and pacing of the individual movements are also exemplary in the E flat major Trio.
"When it comes to the D major, the players go at the outer movements hammer-and-tongs but never overstep the mark, as at least one overpraised rival trio regularly does. The famous Largo is drawn out to 13 minutes but does not sound too slow, because the musicians have such a sure sense of the rhythmic pulse underlying it.
"In short, I am moved, excited and gratified by the musicianship of the Peabody Trio. What a shame the booklet cover is so grim - these three paragons deserve the best."
- Tully Potter
Classical Music Web
"I enjoyed it for its sane approach to tempi and for a pleasing tonal blend.
They approach the Ghost Trio with neither reverence nor casualness. So there is
abruptness and raptness (at the desolate, intensely reflective end of the opening
movement) but well calibrated accents and sprung rhythm. The dynamics are tiered
in the slow movement, sometimes daringly so, though always audibly and whilst
neither of the string players - Violaine Melancon (violin), Natasha Brofsky (cello) -
are big, meaty tonalists they are adept at integrating unison passages. Pianist Seth
Knopp shines in the finale in particular - fine, even playing - flexible and light.
"They approach the much less well-known companion, the E flat major, in a like spirit. There's some well-judged pomposo phrasing, swelling dynamics and good attention to detail, as well as some moments of prayerful simplicity. I was most taken by the Schubertian cast they impart to the Allegretto second movement.
"The recording is natural and well balanced."
- Jonathan Woolf
The Baltimore Sun
"The musicians - violinist Violaine Melancon, cellist Natasha Brofsky,
pianist Seth Knopp - managed to keep Beethoven's expansive trio
from losing its tension. Phrases, even in the long, slow second movement,
nearly crackled with an underlying energy. This was boldly etched Beethoven,
made bolder still by the in-your-face acoustics of the intimate hall."
- Tim Smith
"There is something most wonderful in having many recorded performances of a particular work, each with a different slant. This new Peabody Trio disc becomes my favored performance of this pair, a multitextured complement to the silky smooth Isaac Stern.
Artek's recording, by the justly celebrated Judith Sherman, presents the Peabody
Trio close up, slightly resonant, in a small room, clearly in front of you,
but not so close that you hear their breathing."
The Des Moines Register
"Beethoven's big Piano Trio in D Major, Op. 70, No. 1 (the so-called "Ghost" trio) set the
program's strenuous tone from the beginning, with its immediate contrast between
vehemence from the piano and lyricism from the cello. The middle movement - source of the work's
nickname and renowned as the slowest slow movement ever written - stretched the musical tension
to its highest and deepest lengths. In the slightly more relaxed finale,
the three players showed uncanny unanimity of attack and purpose."
- Bruce Carr
"Breathtaking gusto...an exuberant, right-on-the-mark performance."
The New York Times
"A beautifully polished, lush sound...luminous."
San Francisco Chronicle
"This group's vitality and courage continue to be amazing...One of
the nation's great undersung chamber ensembles...shimmering beauty."
Los Angeles Times
"Incandescent playing of great verve and sensitivity."
The Washington Post
"An outstanding ensemble of young musicians who play with the romantic fervor of the early 20th century greats."
"Phenomenal...superb artistry...an incomparable performance."