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Elvira Bekova  
Press reviews of the Bekova Trio  

The Bekova Trio with Sir Georg Solti
‘I have recently had the pleasure of listening to the Bekova Sisters' Brahms Trios recording. I find them intensely musical and in all aspects a first-class ensemble, deserving of every success’ - Sir Georg Solti 

‘The Bekova Sisters are a unique, very experienced and highly accomplished ensemble with a distinctive personal approach to scores. Their devoted musicianship deserves to be heard by all those who love and cherish music making.’ - Gidon Kremer

‘The Bekova Sisters Trio is without question one of the best piano trios of our day. Performing a wide variety of genres, these talented musicians demonstrate faultless command of style and outstanding virtuosity together with a keen sense of ensemble.’ - Gennady Rozhdestvensky


‘The programme held the audience for their first entry. Being sisters, their rapport was quite natural, but they have something more. Their rhythmic drive is exceptional and also their ability to roughen the sound when necessary, and keep within the limits of good music-making. This was outstanding in their performance of the Shostakovich trio in E minor, op 67, which was breathtaking.’ - The Strad (Great Britain), May 1990

‘If one knows the original piano version and the orchestration by Ravel, then one is stunned here in the first place by the modernity of the strings. All of Mussorgsky's and Ravel's timbre and musical colouring here becomes a playful musical experiment. Totally contemporary’ - Het Laatse Nieuws (Belgium), December 1990

   

A CD of their arrangements of pieces by Russian composers under the title Elegy has also been released by Chandos, with whom the Sisters have now recorded for several years. Their arrangement of Tchaikovsky songs with Sergei Larin drew this comment:

‘The Bekova Sisters have skilfully arranged twenty-five Tchaikovsky songs for voice and piano trio without violating the spirit of the originals. The result, in the most successful examples, is quite a revelation.’ - Fanfare (USA), May/June 1996

These arrangements have now been published by Boosey and Hawkes in a first volume.

 
 

Their arrangement of Tchaikovsky's The Seasons was selected by Classic CD Magazine as one of its 'Choice CDs'. Under the title 'Triple vision Tchaikovsky, another Bekova triumph', Jeremy Siepman wrote:

‘The Bekovas Sisters have reversed the nineteenth century approach to transcribing music for larger forces for piano trio, by successfully enlarging solo piano music for piano trio. Tchaikovsky was never a great tone painter where solo piano was concerned, and the Bekovas have done him a favour here by fulfilling the hitherto unrealised colouristic potential of music largely ignored by great pianists. They have rendered it far more attractive to the average music lover and the instrumental balance is all one could wish for.’ - Classic CD (Great Britain), July 1999

 

The Bekova Trio with Mstislav Rostropovich
Their listing of recordings is extensive, including trios by Grechaninov, Rachmaninov, Ravel, Schubert and Shostakovich together with complete Brahms and Martinu piano trio cycles and various additional chamber pieces by these composers. A disc of Tchaikovsky songs with the tenor Sergei Larin is in the catalogue as are two CDs of Larin accompanied by Eleonora Bekova in songs by Rachmaninov, Cui, Balakirev, Borodin, Mussorgsky and Rimsky-Korsakov. Chamber works by Shostakovich including the Cello Sonata and a transcription of the Viola Sonata and the Cycle of Songs to the poetry of Blok, with the soprano, Joan Rodgers, and Brahms and Rachmaninov Cello Sonatas have also been recorded. They have also released two volumes of Franck Trios and Sonatas.

Critics have acclaimed their recordings:

‘When the Moscow Trio played Rachmaninov's Trio Elegiaque No 2 in D minor in 1903, the composer claimed that they had made him at last fall in love with the work. Nearly a century later, the Bekova Sisters will win even more admirers for the piece with their perceptive and imaginative Chandos recording debut.’ - Hilary Finch, The Times (Great Britain), 21 January 1995

‘The playing on this disc is largely authoritative and splendidly idiomatic without any hint of irritating eccentricity ... Throughout the blend and interplay of string playing is encouraging and the second movement, in particular, is ultimately predicated along those poised and emotionally ambivalent lines that were so peculiarly Schubert's own.’ - The Strad (Great Britain) review of Schubert Trios Volume 1, January 1995

‘The Bekovas emerge here as musicians of great thoughtfulness and sympathy ... revealing an exceptional perception.’ - Classic CD (Great Britain) review of Brahms Trio, April 1995

‘As is immediately apparent in their flowing start ... they present a graciously, fluid, unhurried Brahms, a Brahms seen through feminine eyes, perhaps, yet certainly not lacking in strength at moments of climax ... Tonal reproduction of all three instruments is always pleasingly mellow ... I certainly look forward to hearing these sisters again.’ - Gramophone (Great Britain), May 1995

‘The first three discs with trios by Rachmaninov, Brahms and arrangements of short Russian pieces are characterised by unbridled musical gusto, emotional depth and daring. Their aforementioned qualities are also to be found in these recordings of Schubert's Second Trio and Notturno. Lovely solid playing in which on the first basis of Eleonora's piano, the sisters all contribute colourful, truly overwhelming performances.’ - Klassiek Magazine (The Netherlands), November 1995

‘The Bekova Sisters are a gifted lot. They have superb musicianship and a wonderful sense of nineteenth century style; a telling use of portamenti, a personal and creative approach to phrasing and pacing.’ - Fanfare (USA) Review of Tchaikovsky songs with Sergei Larin, May/June 1996

‘With hot-blooded energy, the talented Bekova Sisters revel in the brittle neo-classical rough-and-tumble of No. 1 of the unrelated five short pieces which constitute Martinu's Trio, reveal sinewy energy in the motoric No. 3 and romp through the wild No. 5.’ - Gramophone (Great Britain) Review of Martinu Trio No. 1, July 1996

‘Eleonora Bekova's playing is elegant and sensitive.’ - American Record Guide (USA), September/October 1997

‘Its childlike escapism is undoubtedly touching and rewarding to play. Strong, enjoyable, up-front performances from the talented Bekova Sisters.’ - Gramophone (Great Britain) Review of Grechaninov Trios, October 1997

‘With their impeccable credentials as child prodigies, as students of Igor Bezrodny, Mstislav Rostropovich and Yakov Zak, and as fully fledged international soloists, the Bekova Sisters might have been expected to offer a tour de force of virtuosity in this recital. Yet as it turned out, their playing was memorable for its intimacy, modesty and refinement, with technical brilliance in abundance but always used as a means to an end. ’

‘Their bewitching performance of Haydn's Gypsy Rondo Trio revealed a lot about their flexible approach to rhythm - from delightful rubato on the opening semiquavers to the wayward Hungarian episodes in the finale. Here violinist Elvira and cellist Alfia were rightly content to offer discreet and stylish support to Eleonora's elegant piano part.’

‘In Brahm's A minor Trio, however, there was a marked shift of balance and an injection of passion, yet the over-riding impression was still one of coolness and restraint. Here and even in the more soloistic Tchaikovsky Trio, in the same key, the unanimity of bowing and phrasing, the perfection of ensemble and, above all, the unity of approach suggested either hundreds of hours of practice or an innately single-minded view of the music".’ - The Strad (Great Britain), April 1997

‘The wonderfully expressive sound of the Bekova Sisters that launched the Melbourne Festival chamber music series was riveting stuff. With the great piano trios of Ravel and Shostakovich to inspire the threesome, the capacity audience were practically on the edge of their seats.’ - The Australian (Australia), 23 October 1998

‘The Czech Rhapsody is really rather a beautiful piece and Elvira Bekova plays it with much sensitivity and feeling. The play throughout has spirit and dedication, and the recording, made at The Maltings in Snape, is in the best Chandos tradition.’ - Gramophone (Great Britain Review of Martinu Trios No. 2 and 3, January 1999

‘The suppleness and lilt of their rhythm is impeccable and infectious, easily outclassing Chandos's other trio in almost every respect. The intonation is spotless, the interplay between the players, like their uncanny unanimity, is almost creepy in its subtlety, and their judgement of mood and formal perspective is exemplary. Superb performances which can hold their own with all comers.’ - Classic CD (Great Britain) Review of Tchaikovsky Trio, July 1999

‘An account as moving as any and as finely played. The Bekovas imaginatively draw on what is there - the dreaming of the second movement's ninth variation is very affectingly done, making a delightful contrast with the following capricious mazurka variation. As to the oft-encountered problems of instrumental balance in this piece, somehow they seem to sort themselves out, for which credit is due - equally - to the pianist's awareness that it is all too easy to dominate in this piece, to the engineering, and to the fact that it is the kind of performance that invites you to engage with it on an expressive level.’ - Gramophone (Great Britain) Review of Tchaikovsky Trio, August 1999

 


 

The Bekova Sisters' CD of the Martinu Piano Trios numbers 2 and 3, Czech Rhapsody and Nocturnes was selected by the BBC Music Magazine Critics' Choice as one of the best CDs of 1998 in their Christmas 1998 selection. In his original review, Terry Barfoot wrote:

‘The performances are most pleasing, the Bekova Sisters enhancing their reputation as artists of the first rank ... They also include two duo compositions. The Czech Rhapsody was written for Fritz Kreisler. Understandably, virtuosity has a high priority, though there is room for lyricism as Elvira Bekova meets the challenge. The Nocturnes subtitled Studies for Cello and Piano ... address technical problems in a most musical way. There could be no better description of Alfia Bekova's performance, which is enhanced, like no other items, by excellent Chandos sound.’ - BBC Music Magazine (Great Britain), September 1998.

   
 

The Bekova Sisters are proud upholders of the Russian musical tradition. Their artistry is profound, combining unrestrained sincerity with superb technique and fidelity to the composer's original idea. According to this approach, every musical phrase should have its own sense and image, so that the whole becomes comprehensible to the listener. The three soloists themselves say that the ultimate aim of their art is to find the universal truth behind the music and to convey this to the public. Judging by the response they have evoked, this philosophy is successful.

‘Whenever I have had the chance to listen to the Bekovas, they played like three hearts that beat as one.’ - Norman Lebrecht, The Daily Telegraph (Great Britain), 27 March 1995

‘The range of emotions was incredible, going beyond music into the depth of human experience ... For me, the Bekova Sisters Trio is to all other trios as Horowitz was to pianists and Heifitz to violinists.’ - Michael Webber (Music Adviser to English Heritage)

© M Humphreys & E Bekova, 2003 - 2010