By Nancy Plum
Although unable to appear live in Princeton this summer as part of Princeton University Summer Chamber Concerts, Manhattan Chamber Players did not want to miss out on Beethoven’s 250th anniversary, and made the most of technology by presenting an online performance last Wednesday night in a continuation of the Chamber Concerts “Chamber Music Wednesdays” series.
A collective of 22 New York-based musicians, Manhattan Chamber Players performs in a variety of flexible combinations — in Wednesday night’s performance, as a string trio. A true family string ensemble, violist Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt; her husband, cellist Brook Speltz; and his brother, violinist Brendan Speltz, presented Ludwig van Beethoven’s String Trio in G Major, Opus 9, No. 1, recorded during the current pandemic in a private home in Philadelphia. In an online performance introduced by the ensemble’s Artistic Director Luke Fleming, van de Stadt and the Speltz brothers presented a clean and unified performance of this work, showing why Beethoven’s string trios can easily stand up against his more substantial and more well-known string quartets.
Beethoven arrived in Vienna in 1792 to study with Franz Josef Haydn, quickly embracing the courtly Viennese chamber music style of Haydn and wunderkind Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. String Quartet in G Major was the first of three string trios comprising Beethoven’s Opus 9, composed between 1797 and 1798. String Trio No. 1 showed the clear influence of Mozart’s 1788 Divertimento in E-flat Major, a sizeable work considered the first piece in the string trio genre by any composer, but also demonstrated Beethoven’s forward-thinking Romantic musical ideas. more