In the classical era, and far into the 19th century, piano trios were what we might call “fashion accessories.” It is thus no coincidence that Beethoven, following in the footsteps of Haydn and Mozart, took up this genre and created altogether 13 piano trios of his own. This second volume contains the two Piano Trios op. 70 and the Trio op. 97, as well as the Variations on the song “Ich bin der Schneider Kakadu” op. 121a. The nickname “Geistertrio” (Ghost Trio) of the Trio op. 70 no. 1 stems, as usual, not from Beethoven but was given to the piece no doubt because of the spooky, mysterious sound of the slow movement.
The Archduke Trio op. 97 was named after its dedicatee Archduke Rudolph and is undisputedly Beethoven’s most important composition of this kind. With a duration of over 45 minutes, it is also his longest piano trio. Though written in 1810/11, it was not published until 1816.