Superlatives like "best and finest" are easy to dispense when a group the caliber of the Beaux Arts Trio performs a work as singular as Beethoven's "Archduke" Trio. Yet if the accolade fits, wear it.
The Beaux Arts Trio wore it well last night at the Library of Congress in the last of its all-Beethoven programs. Ensemble play of the highest order was the rule without exception. An early opus, the C Minor Trio, came across with a freshness and verve expected of this group, which injected just the right amount of drama, making the finale's coda a delicately abrupt signature. An interesting diversion was the Variation on the Song "Ich bin der Schneider Kakadu" -- musically modest, but a design masterpiece.
This highbrow schmaltz paved the way for a magnificent "Archduke," boldly delivered with a special eye for the poignant lyricism in the Andante. "I know you'll be surprised, but we're going to do some more Beethoven," said violinist Isidore Cohen before the Beaux Arts' encore, the finale to the E-flat Trio. Again, Beethoven and the Beaux Arts Trio proved to be the best of both worlds.
The performance will be repeated this evening.