by Mike Telin
“Beethoven’s six piano trios are important touch points in his development as a composer,” pianist Wu Han said during a telephone conversation. “Hearing all of them is the equivalent of hearing all of the string quartets — not only is it a rich and unusual experience, but you become a different listener.”
Thanks to the Cleveland Chamber Music Society, audiences will have the opportunity to hear all six trios when Wu Han, violinist Philip Setzer, and cellist David Finckel perform them on two adjacent nights at Fairmount Temple.
On Monday, March 26 at 7:30 pm, the program includes Op. 1, Nos. 1 and 3, and Op. 70, No. 1 (“Ghost”). The following evening — same time — you can hear Op. 1, No. 2, Op. 70, No. 2, and Op. 97 (“Archduke”). Tickets are available online.
The pianist said that hearing the three trios that make up Opus 1 will help listeners understand Beethoven in a deeper way. “He made his debut in Vienna with them. They were played in one evening and Haydn was there. Each of the three are completely different, but it was the most innovative piano trio writing of that time. He pushed the art form forward. You gain a sense of the evolution of the art form in Opus 70, and of course Opus 97 set the stage for the trios of Brahms, Mendelssohn, and Dvořák.”