Beethoven – Triple concerto – Complete discography

Another discography about one of my preferred works. For usual readers, don’t worry : no Kubelík here (though I have a live recording by him and the Trieste Trio (1973), not very good).

Two reasons : A very recent issue with Barenboim (live) and the controversial first recording by Karajan for EMI which I praise.

The first recording of the following 58 ones was made by Felix Weingartner in 1937. Recordings feature either famous soloists (Oïstrakh, Perlman, Saham… for violinists) either established trios. Some of them are conducted from the piano. Many symphonic orchestras in this survey, but one guesses they were in a “Mozart” format (except at least a famous one…). 

There is a little cadenza in the first movement which always makes me think of a passage of Boieldieu’s Harp concerto (1800, Triple concerto written in 1803-1804).

I – Allegro

I listened to the different versions without precise order for the 1st movement.

Martin West – San Francisco Ballet Orchestra – Claremont Trio – 2012
Martin West seems to be most known for his ballet conducting. Introduction not very lively, instrumentalists lack of character too. Rather pleasant though. 7 

Alexander Orlov – USSR Radio Grand Symphony Orchestra – David Oistrakh – Sviatoslav Knushevitsky – Lev Oborin – 1947
Orchestra a little confused but determined, cello a little out of tune sometimes (portamento), but the trio is very vivid and singing. 8

Daniel Barenboim – West-Eastern Divan Orchestra – Anne-Sophie Mutter – Yo-Yo Ma – Daniel Barenboim – 2020 (Live)
The orchestra is quite reverberated, rather dramatic introduction, accents, Ma lacks a little of body, but every one is well integrated in the musical flow. 8

Paavo Järvi – Frankfurt Radio Symphony – Gil Shaham – Anne Gastinel – Andreas Ottensamer – 2018
Naïve didn’t give the rights to Qobuz so I listened to it on Spotify in a lower definition. Conducted “à l’ancienne”, it is then rather dry and quite military, the trio, virtuoso, sounds exterior and mannered. 7

Herbert von Karajan – Berlin Philharmonic – David Oïstrakh – Mstislav Rostropovich – Sviatoslav Richter – 1970
Here it is. “Too much opulent”, “soloists don’t listen to each other” “orchestra and soloists just play apart” and so on… For sure it was a great marketing idea to gather these three Russian stars. 
Wonderful and fierce introduction, wonderful instrumentalists event if I find Richter a little grey as usual. This version is not exterior at all, it’s even moving. Maybe the picture is too big and beautiful? 8.5
This is what Richter declared later on: “It’s a dreadful recording and I disown it utterly… Battle lines were drawn up with Karajan and Rostropovich on the one side and Oïstrakh and me on the other… Suddenly Karajan decided that everything was fine and that the recording was finished. I demanded an extra take. ‘No, no,’ he replied, ‘we haven’t got time, we’ve still got to do the photographs.’ To him, this was more important than the recording. And what a nauseating photograph it is, with him posing artfully and the rest of us grinning like idiots.”

Inbal – Philharmonia – Henryk Szeryng – Janos Starker – Claudio Arrau – 1970
Orchestral introduction a little heavy. Arrau is great, but the whole thing is a rather cold. 7

Lars Vogt – Northern Sinfonia – Christian Tetzlaff – Tanja Tetzlaff – Lars Vogt – 2017
Almost no vibrato on strings, sounds pale. Good piano, but many effects or affects. 6,5

Antonini – Kammerorchester Basel – Giuliano Carmignola – Sol Gabetta – Dejan Lazić – 2015
Same characteristics at the orchestra, a little more vivid but so square. A better cellist, but it’s prettier (the conception, not the playing) than taking. 7

James Conlon – Gürzenich-Orchester Kölner Philharmoniker – Trio Wanderer – 2000
(Spotify) – Lively but rather heavy introduction, very good playing and entente from the trio. A good lecture, sound a little harsh? 7.5

Fricsay – Radio-Symphonie-Orchester Berlin – Wolfgang Schneiderhan – Pierre Fournier – Geza Anda – 1960
Orchestra a little dry, but a lively introduction. The best cellist with Rostropovitch, superb Anda with a mozartian playing. A little static sometimes but enjoyable. 8

Below, there is a conductor and the pianist is a conductor…

Laurence Equilbey – Insula Orchestra – Alexandra Conunova – Natalie Clein – David Kadouch – 2019
Live – ‘Period’ instruments, vertical conducting, loud timpani. Not a great trio and it’s rather boring. 6,5

Armin Jordan – Orchestre National de l’Opéra de Monte-Carlo – Pierre Amoyal – Frédéric Lodéon – Anne Queffélec – 1978
Orchestra not very clear. Rather static. 7

Karajan – Berlin Philharmonic – Anne-Sophie Mutter – Yo-Yo Ma – Mark Zeltser – 1980
Recording less beautiful than the 1970 version for the orchestra. Superb Ma & Mutter, too much difference of perspective between the soloists and the orchestra. 7.5

Daniel Barenboim – Berliner Philharmoniker – Itzhak Perlman – Yo-Yo Ma – Daniel Barenboim – 1995
Live – Not a very good sound either, but it is taking, very lively (live), despite the orchestra and the sound, it sounds like chamber music. 8.5

Nikolaus Harnoncourt – Chamber Orchestra of Europe – Thomas Zehetmair – Clemens Hagen – Pierre-Laurent Aimard – 2004
Introduction a little slow compassed, sound of the orchestra a little harsh, same for the trio, a version in grey. 7

David Zinman – Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich – Gil Shaham – Truls Mørk – Yefim Bronfman – 2005
Detailed orchestra, introduction a little static, beautiful playing at the strings, pianist so so. Not very exciting. 7

Franzjosef Maier – Collegium Aureum – Franzjosef Maier – Anner Bylsma – Paul Badura-Skoda – 1974
So it was conducted for once from the violin. Except for the piano which sounds like an harpsichord, it is a pleasant lecture. 7.5

Kurt Masur – Gewandhausorchester Leipzig – Beaux Arts trio – 1994
Nice introduction. beautiful orchestra. The problem with an established trio is that they can seem to play apart on their own. 7.5

Szell – Cleveland Orchestra – Isaac Stern – Leonard Rose – Eugene Istomin – 1966
Live – The famous trio recorded it with Ormandy the year before. Introduction a little straight, as for the trio though it is well animated. Superb L. Rose. 7.5

JoAnn Falletta – Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra – Michael Ludwig – László Fenyö – Muza Rubackyté – 2011
Introduction very pale, as further on, style ‘you’ll have an other cup of tea?’. 6

Walther Davisson – Stuttgart State orchestra – Bronislaw Gimpel – Josef Schuster – Friedrich Wührer – 1956
Davisson (1885 – 1973) was a violinist and conductor. Vivid and well sounding intro. Bad piano sound but a lively trio. 7.5

Alexandre Rabinovitch-Barakovsky – Orchestra Della Svizzera Italiana – Renaud Capuçon – Mischa Maisky – Martha Argerich – 2002
Live – This is coupled with the best Schumann piano concerto I know (one of the worst one being Argerich / Harnoncourt…).
Beautiful introduction, but the trio seems to be on automatic gear. 7.5

Malcom Sargent – Philharmonia – Oïstrakh trio – 1959
‘Grand’ orchestra. Good trio (David Oïstrakh, Sviatoslav Knushevitsky & Lev Oborin) but it is rather sleepy. 7

Bernard Haitink – London Philharmonic Orchestra – Beaux-arts trio – 1977
(Isidore Cohen, Bernard Greenhouse & Menahem Pressler). Good introduction, cello not very sounding, beaded piano from Pressler. Pleasant lecture. 7.5

Myung-Whun Chung – Philharmonia Orchestra – Kyung-Wha Chung – Myung-Wha Chung – Myung-Whun Chung – 1997
Steady introduction, but it is rather boring. 7

Douglas Boyd – Musikkollegium Winterthur – Berolina Trio – 2010
Harsh introduction, not a very good sound (strings), not a very good trio either. 6.5

Eugen Ormandy – Philadelphia Orchestra – Isaac Stern – Leonard Rose – Eugene Istomin – 1965
A pleasure to listen to a good conductor… Superb trio a little mannered though. 7.5

Eliahu Inbal – Philharmonia Orchestra – Trio Fontenay – 1995
Inbal will have recorded it twice, as Karajan, Haitink, and three times for Masur (Barenboim twice also but live).
Orchestra OK trio also not much to say nothing special… 7

Christoph Eschenbach – London Symphony Orchestra – Pinchas Zukerman – Ralph Kirshbaum – John Browning – 1998
Brisk introduction, beautiful strings, elegant playing from Zukerman, cellist slows down, piano so so. 7

Philippe Entremont – Wiener Kammerorchester – Markus Wolf – Howard Penny – Christiane Karajeva – 2006
The best introduction so far in a chamber perspective, lively, animated and detailed. And it goes on, the music flows and you keep on listening. Best piano so far too. 8.5

Kurt Masur – Gewandhausorchester Leipzig – Ulf Hoelscher – Heinrich Schiff – Christian Zacharias – 1985
Large and beautiful orchestra, a little far away. The trio is giving an engaged lecture. 8

Jan Willem de Vriend – The Netherlands Symphony Orchestra – Storioni Trio – 2013
Cheerful introduction, rather good trio until you hear an old piano not very well sounding. 7

Hans Rosbaud – SWR Symphonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg – Trio de Trieste – 1953
Live – Rather distant sound, metronomic overture, not a very good orchestra, rather pale trio. 6

Edward Heath – English Chamber Orchestra – Trio Zingara – 1989
This former English Prime Minister said “you have more power at the podium than in Downing Street”.
Strong and heavy introduction, good trio, a rather cold lecture. 7

Hans Müller-Kray – Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra – Erich Röhn – Arthur Troester – Conrad Hansen – 1956
A rather boring introduction. It doesn’t get any better longer on with intonation problems. 5

Lutz Herbig – Radio Symphony Orchestra Ljubljana ? – Alexander Bondurijanski – Mikhail Utkin – Vladimir Ivanov – 1992
Probably fake names. Harsh introduction, violinist with a huge vibrato, pedestrian piano. 5.5

Zhongjie Han – Central Philharmonic Orchestra of China – Pedro León – Pedro Corostola – Leonora Milà – 2014
Looks exotic. Metronomic and heavy overture, it’s getting then slower and sleepy. 5

Charles Gerhardt – National Philharmonic Orchestra – Philippe Koch – France Springuel – Daniel Blumenthal – 1994
Rather shaky overture, trio OK, but does not support interest. 6.5

Stanislav Vavrinek – Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra – Smetana Trio – 2008
Interesting coupling with the Grand rondeau concertant, Op. 25 by Jan Hugo Voříšek.
Orchestra a little shaky, stylish and polite trio. 7

Jean Martinon – Orchestre Philharmonique de l’ORTF – Christian Ferras – Paul Tortelier – Eric Heidsieck – 1970
Live, noises. Superb conducting, dramatic. Lively and engaged trio. 8

Neeme Järvi – Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra – Sara Trobäck Hesselink – Claes Gunnarsson – Per Lundberg (Trio Poseidon) – 2010
Pale overture. Trio rather cautious. 6.5

Herbert Kegel – Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra – Christian Funke – Jurnjakob Timm – Peter Rösel – 1987
Soft but poetic introduction, then it is slow and rather distant. 6.5

Bernard Haitink – London Symphony Orchestra – Gordan Nikolitch – Tim Hugh – Lars Vogt – 2006
Live – The orchestra doesn’t sound very well, very low tension then. 6.5

Kent Nagano – Deutsches Sinfonie Orchester Berlin – Kolja Blacher – Johannes Moser – Mari Kodama – 2014
Wife at the piano, husband conducting. A very stylish lecture, calm but poetic, trio very well balanced. 8

Felix Weingartner – Wiener Philharmoniker – Ricardo Odnoposoff – Stefan Auber – Angelica Morales – 1937
The first recording ever. Rather good sound, animated introduction; ‘natural’ phrasing from the trio, mellower than usual. Cellist’s intonation perfectible. 7.5

Zurich Chamber orchestra – Schweizer Klaviertrio – 2018
No assigned conductor here. Not much vibrato, some bellows effects, it’s lacking of some engagement. 7

Karl Böhm – Wiener Symphoniker – Trio de Trieste – 1954
Again a live concert with the Trio de Trieste. Bad sound, shaky introduction, trio not well sounding. 5.5

Bela Drahos – Nicolaus Esterházy Sinfonia – Dong-Suk Kang – Maria Kliegel – Jenő Jandó – 1998
Correct introduction, trio lacks of tension. 6.5

Thomas Dausgaard – Swedish Chamber Orchestra – Urban Svensson – Mats Rondin – Boris Berezovsky – 2002
Orchestra far away, not appealing, lacks of tension. Violin and cello lacks of sound, piano rather steady. 6

James Judd – Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – Thomas Albertus Irnberger – David Geringas – Michael Korstick – 2017
Heavy introduction, not well sounding, trio not remarkable. 6.5

Barry Douglas – Camerata Ireland – Chee-Yun – Andrés Díaz – Barry Douglas – 2007
Prosaic introduction, the rest doesn’t hold interest. 6.5

Andras Korodi – Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra – Dénes Kovács – Miklos Perényi – Anikó Szegedi – 1997
Introduction not very much alert, but poetic tones, engaged trio. A very good ‘classical’ interpretation. 8

Bruno Walter – Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra of New York – John Corigliano – Leonard Rose – Walter Hendl – 1949
Introduction (too much) decided, exaggerated accents, impressive Leonard Rose and a lively trio. 7.5

Pascal Verrot – Orchestre philharmonique de Lorraine – Gérard Poulet – Dominique de Wiliencourt – Emile Naoumoff – 1998
(Spotify) – Rather pale overture trio more nervous than animated. 6.5

Alexander Schneider – Marlboro Festival Orchestra – Jaime Laredo – Leslie Parnas – Rudolf Serkin – 1964
(Spotify) – Slow tempo, speaking of Marlboro, no recording by the famous trio Cortot, Thibaud, Casals. Not the best orchestra but a lively introduction. Great cello sound. A lively account. 8

Howard Shelley – The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – Jean-Jacques Kantorow – Raphael Wallisch – Michael Roll – 2000
Rather dull introduction, trio not very lively. 6.5

Claudio Abbado – Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela – Ilya Gringolts – Mario Brunello – Alexander Lonquich – 2006
Live – Not the best orchestral sound, but well conducted. Sleepy trio. 6.5

Eric Jacobsen – The Knights – Colin Jacobsen – Jan Vogler – Antti Siirala – 1997
Rather gloomy introduction. Elegant trio. 7

So I will keep these 11 versions :

Daniel Barenboim – Berliner Philharmoniker – Itzhak Perlman – Yo-Yo Ma – Daniel Barenboim – 1995
Philippe Entremont – Wiener Kammerorchester – Markus Wolf – Howard Penny – Christiane Karajeva – 2006
Herbert von Karajan – Berlin Philharmonic – David Oistrakh – Mstislav Rostropovich – Sviatoslav Richter – 1970
Daniel Barenboim – West-Eastern Divan Orchestra – Anne-Sophie Mutter – Yo-Yo Ma – Daniel Barenboim – 2020
Ferenc Fricsay – Radio-Symphonie-Orchester Berlin – Wolfgang Schneiderhan – Pierre Fournier – Geza Anda – 1960
Andras Korodi – Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra – Dénes Kovács – Miklos Perényi – Anikó Szegedi – 1997
Jean Martinon – Orchestre Philharmonique de l’ORTF – Christian Ferras – Paul Tortelier – Eric Heidsieck – 1970
Kurt Masur – Gewandhausorchester Leipzig – Ulf Hoelscher – Heinrich Schiff – Christian Zacharias – 1985
Kent Nagano – Deutsches Sinfonie Orchester Berlin – Kolja Blacher – Johannes Moser – Mari Kodama – 2014
Alexander Schneider – Marlboro Festival Orchestra – Jaime Laredo – Leslie Parnas – Rudolf Serkin – 1964

Contrary to many compared listening I made, there are some recent versions kept.

II – Largo – III – Rondo alla polacca

Alexander Orlov – USSR Radio Grand Symphony Orchestra – David Oistrakh – Sviatoslav Knushevitsky – Lev Oborin – 1947
A good lecture, largo a little whiny, cello not well sounding. 7.5

Ferenc Fricsay – Radio-Symphonie-Orchester Berlin – Wolfgang Schneiderhan – Pierre Fournier – Geza Anda – 1960
Superb largo, Rondo lacks a little bit of nerve. 8

Alexander Schneider – Marlboro Festival Orchestra – Jaime Laredo – Leslie Parnas – Rudolf Serkin – 1964
Superb Largo too, Rondo a little more animated. 8

Herbert von Karajan – Berlin Philharmonic – David Oistrakh – Mstislav Rostropovich – Sviatoslav Richter – 1970
Good Largo, superb orchestra, animated largo. 8

Jean Martinon – Orchestre Philharmonique de l’ORTF – Christian Ferras – Paul Tortelier – Eric Heidsieck – 1970
Impressive presence, Rondo animated, joyful. 8.5

Kurt Masur – Gewandhausorchester Leipzig – Ulf Hoelscher – Heinrich Schiff – Christian Zacharias – 1985
Largo too much soft and no inhabited, same for the rondo, disappointing. 7

Daniel Barenboim – Berliner Philharmoniker – Itzhak Perlman – Yo-Yo Ma – Daniel Barenboim – 1995
Largo beautiful but a little languid, playful Rondo. 8

Andras Korodi – Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra – Dénes Kovács – Miklos Perényi – Anikó Szegedi – 1997
Sensible Largo, Rondo a little steady. 7.5

Philippe Entremont – Wiener Kammerorchester – Markus Wolf – Howard Penny – Christiane Karajeva – 2006
The most evident Largo up to now. Beginning of the Rondo not too slow for once, then a little more animation, it would have been perfect. 8

Kent Nagano – Deutsches Sinfonie Orchester Berlin – Kolja Blacher – Johannes Moser – Mari Kodama – 2014
Prayerful Largo, good Rondo. 8

Daniel Barenboim – West-Eastern Divan Orchestra – Anne-Sophie Mutter – Yo-Yo Ma – Daniel Barenboim – 2020
Beautiful Largo and the best Rondo. 8.5

Finally my preferred are:
Live: Barenboim II and Martinon
Studio: Karajan I and Entremont


5 thoughts on “Beethoven – Triple concerto – Complete discography”

  1. Après avoir un peu erré dans les versions, j’en suis tout de même revenu à Karajan, qui reste superbe, ne serait-ce que pour l’extraordinaire entrée de la clarinette à 2:09 dans l’adagio ! Et quel orchestre… (mais pas que !)

  2. Thank you. I don’t know Martinon version, good soloists, after your article I’ll try to get it. I like Marlboro which you list, also third Masur with Suk Trio and ČF. Two versions with Bĕlohlávek and Prague Philharmonia, Bohemia Music with Voříšek and Czech Radio with Brahms interesting and gentle.

  3. You can buy CD box of complete concertos with it or download from amazon or supraphonline but you have to download the whole set as some tracks are ‘album only’..

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