Ludwig van Beethoven

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

Nationality: German
Baptized: December 17, 1770, Bonn Died: March 26, 1827, Vienna (age 56)

Piano Trio No. 7 in B-flat major, Op. 97, "Archduke"

(for violin, cello and piano)
13:03 I. Allegro moderato
7:53 II. Scherzo. Allegro - Coda
12:32 III. Andante cantabile ma però con moto
7:16 IV. Allegro moderato
Duration: 38 minutes (approximately)
Composed: 1811 (age 40-41)
Premiere: April 11, 1814. Vienna. Beethoven (piano), Schuppanzigh (violin) and Linke (cello)
Published: 1816, Vienna: Steiner (age 45-46)
Dedication: Erzherzog Rudolph
7 recordings, 16 videos
autoplay
13:13
Gryphon Trio
I. Allegro moderato
7:05
Gryphon Trio
II. Scherzo. Allegro - Coda
12:45
Gryphon Trio
III. Andante cantabile ma però con moto
7:17
Gryphon Trio
IV. Allegro moderato
4:13
Tokyo String Quartet
41:00
Stern, Rose, Istomin
12:31
Perlman, Harrell, Ashkenazy
I. Allegro moderato
6:37
Perlman, Harrell, Ashkenazy
II. Scherzo. Allegro - Coda
11:34
Perlman, Harrell, Ashkenazy
III. Andante cantabile ma però con moto
6:45
Perlman, Harrell, Ashkenazy
IV. Allegro moderato
13:16
Haydn Trio Eisenstadt
I. Allegro moderato
6:40
Haydn Trio Eisenstadt
II. Scherzo. Allegro - Coda
12:54
Haydn Trio Eisenstadt
III. Andante cantabile ma però con moto
7:35
Haydn Trio Eisenstadt
IV. Allegro moderato
39:23
Beaux Arts Trio (complete)
42:15
ATOS Trio (complete)
From Kai Christiansen

Ludwig van Beethoven, 1770-1827

Piano Trio No. 7 in B-flat major, Op. 97, "Archduke",1811
Ludwig van BeethovenAs with nearly every genre he touched, Beethoven radically transformed the piano trio through a series of evolving works culminating in a grand utterance of vast proportion and emotional depth. He completed his seventh and final multi-movement piano trio in 1811 at the age of forty-one, the Trio in B-flat major, Op. 97 known as the "Archduke" after Beethoven's dedication of the work to Archduke Rudolph, the emperor's brother and a regular piano student of Beethoven's. But this "Archduke" epithet seems to encompass more than merely its dedicatee: the music is grand and noble, broad and beneficent, the composition itself one of the great aristocrats among piano trios. Though this would be Beethoven's last piano trio, it falls within his middle "heroic" period characterized by many of these same traits and, here, his contribution to the genre ends. Inaugurating his published catalog with a set of trios in 1795 and "peaking" with the "Archduke" some sixteen years later, Beethoven would leave the piano trio behind during his final "late" period explorations. The "Archduke" is thus the magnificent end of a dynasty, yet another fruitful association with its multi-layered nickname.

The "Archduke" is characterized overall by what Melvin Berger calls a new "gemütchlichkeit" in Beethoven's work, a "warm, emotional style with broadly sung, moderately paced melodies and appealing dance rhythms." There are no epic fugues, no jarring disruptions, no transcendent tangents and no relentless dismantling of music to its fundamental core. Instead, there is bountiful beauty, genial vitality and humor.

The first and third movements occupy most of the trio and represent some of the noblest music ever penned regardless of the ensemble. The opening Allegro features the signature glowing theme by which the trio is immediately known followed by a secondary theme that just temporarily stalls a further flowering of grandeur with a stuttering three-note motive that eventually gives way to a flowing, exalted cadence. The development is absorbed with a fragmentation of the main theme, first a "head" motive, then a "tail" motive and then a combination, each time deferring the complete, full theme until crucial points of catharsis and the ultimate elaborated recapitulation. The third movement Andante is one of Beethoven's finest conceptions representing two areas in which he consistently reigned supreme: the poignant, expansive slow movement and the theme and variations form. A broad, noble theme sets the mood and a series of variations display Beethoven's inexhaustible invention, his full exploration of piano trio textures, and an overarching dramatic design that continually expands the simple, heartfelt tune into an elevated poem.

The other pair of movements - the second and the fourth - find Beethoven indulging his sparkling, good-natured humor, first with a lively scherzo, then a rosy-cheeked rondo where silliness meets high art. Typical for Beethoven, his scherzo theme is little more than a punctuated scale that, when adorned with variation and counterpoint, becomes a superior entertainment. The trio is deliciously odd and eventually raucous. An eerie scrap of undulating chromaticism triggers a ponderous little canon that is abruptly barnstormed by a loudly leaping Chopin-like Mazurka. The return of the scherzo only compounds the hilarity with a few more unexpected pratfalls still to come. The finale is equally ebullient. In a similar stunt, the slow movement segues directly into the last movement as the lively rondo theme abruptly crashes into the serene meditation of the last variation. Strong, pouncing accents, whisper-and-shout dynamics, laughably simple scale-like themes and a kind of snickering back and forth between the strings make for a rollicking ride. The tempo flies off the handle while the music keeps abruptly shouting "boo" and the whole thing ends with a big, fat grin.

© Kai Christiansen Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Related Composers

Archduke Rudolph (1788-1831)
Student
Nationality: Austrian
Born: January 8, 1788, Florence Died: July 4, 1831, Baden (age 43)
Ferdinand Ries (1784-1838)
Student
Nationality: German
Baptized: November 28, 1784, Bonn Died: January 13, 1838, Frankfurt (age 53)
Carl Czerny (1791-1857)
Student
Nationality: Austrian
Born: February 21, 1791, Vienna Died: July 15, 1857, Vienna (age 66)
Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
Teacher
Nationality: Austrian
Born: March 31, 1732, Rohrau, Austria Died: May 31, 1809, Vienna (age 77)
Christian Gottlob Neefe (1748-1798)
Teacher
Nationality: German
Born: February 5, 1748, Chemnitz Died: January 26, 1798, Dessau (age 49)
Johann Albrechtsberger (1736-1809)
Teacher
Nationality: Austrian
Born: February 3, 1736, Klosterneuburg Died: March 7, 1809, Vienna (age 73)
Nikolaus Zmeskáll (1759-1833)
Friend/Colleague
Nationality: Hungarian
Born: November 20, 1759, Unterkubin Died: June 23, 1833, Vienna (age 73)