Трио №7 для фортепиано, скрипки и виолончели B-dur Op.97 ('Эрцгерцог')

Посв. эрцгерцогу Рудольфу Австрийскому, 1810-11

1. Allegro moderato
2. Scherzo: Allegro
3. Andante cantabile, ma però con moto
4. Allegro moderato. Presto

Вильгельм Кемпф (фортепиано)
Генрик Шеринг (скрипка)
Пьер Фурнье (виолончель)

Beethoven himself, looking back at his life's work, considered the Piano Trio in B flat major, Op. 97, of 1810-1811, to be among his very finest creations. (The work is universally known as the "Archduke" Trio because, like many Beethoven works, it is dedicated to the composer's patron Archduke Rudolph; less justifiable is its place in the catalog as the Piano Trio No. 7—for, while there are piano trios to which the numbers 8 through 12 have been assigned, the "Archduke" is actually Beethoven's last finished utterance in the medium.) Generations of performing pianists and string players have agreed with Beethoven's judgment, and the work has, perhaps to the unjust neglect of Beethoven's many other piano trios, cornered the market for late Classical piano trios. In the "Archduke" Trio, for really only the second or third time in piano trio history, both the violin and cello achieve a status truly equal to that of the piano.

The reason that this work, of all the work's Beethoven dedicated to Archduke Rudolph, should acquire the nickname "Archduke" is really very simple: the word fits the music, and if there never had been a Rudolph or if he should never have taken an interest in Beethoven, the nickname would still fit perfectly. There is, from the very first bars of the opening Allegro moderato, a nobleness to the work that cannot but impress; and that nobleness is made all the more potent and believable by being very frequently understated, as during the solo piano phrase that introduces the first movement's main theme—piano, dolce, supremely lyrical. When the strings enter, six bars into the piece, they do so by sneaking in during the piano's cadence and then offering a lush little duet that easily falls back into the main theme. Even when things grow more heated later on in the exposition there is never the sense of anything particularly urgent—everything is under perfect control, and smooth songfulness, not dramatic physicality, is paramount.

The second of the "Archduke" Trio's four movements is a light-footed Scherzo started by the cello and violin alone; the slithering chromaticism of the trio section is strange and mysterious. The Andante cantabile ma però moto third movement is a set of variations on a very serious (but semplice) D major theme; and the Allegro moderato finale, which follows the Andante without break, is a rollicking rondo in which our happy noble indulges in a bit of refined Trinklied.

(All Music Guide)