Who’s in the million dollar trio of 2021?

Who’s in the million dollar trio of 2021?


norman lebrecht

March 10, 2021

Back in the day the pianist Arthur Rubinstein, cellist Gregor Piatigorsky, and violinist Jascha Heifetz, all commanding record fees, were known as the Million Dollar Trio.

Now Barcelona has put together as high-waged a trio as is possible in present circs.

See below to find out who.


  • Robert Levin says:

    Maxim Vengerov would have been a far better choice!

  • Pedro says:

    Martha Argerich can form a trio with any artists she choose. This would be my million-dollar trio.

  • Zandonai says:

    Norman’s favorite trio – Lang Lang, Ray Chen, Yo-Yo

  • Scott Fruehwald says:

    Hilary Hahn, Marc-Andre Hamelin, Alisha Weilerstein.

  • Edgar Selff says:

    Two of the best I’ve heard are Alon Goldstein-Ilya Kaler-Amit Peled and the Chung family trio.

    Before Rubinstein-Heifetz-Piatigorsky were Rubinstein-Heifetz- Feuermann. Others: Pennario-Heifetz-Piatigorsky, Istomin-Stern-Rose, Schnabel-Hubermann-?, R.Serkin-A.Busch-H.Busch, Cortot-Thibaud-Casals, Edwin Fischer-Trio, Horace Britt-Trio, Elly Ney-Trio, Lili Kraus-Trio, Badura-Skoda-Trio, Freddy Kempf-Trio, Richter-Kagan-Gutman, Gilels-Kogan-?, Goldenweiser-D.Oistrakh-Rostropovic, and those formed arou0nd Alfredo Casella, Wilhelm Kempff. Myra Hess, and Solomon.

    I’ve seen Maxim Vengerov play in a quarter but not in a trio.

    • David K. Nelson says:

      On recordings at least (not sure they ever gave a concert) I’d mention Rubinstein/ Szeryng/Fournier.

  • Ricardo says:

    Catalonia already has this trio: https://www.isrbx.net/3137859482-trio-montserrat-german-counterpoint-2021.html – A string trio, of course, and one that first got together to make this exceptionally excellent recording. Catalonia would do well to support great local artists like these.

  • M2N2K says:

    One syllable USA-based: Ax, Bell, Ma.
    Two syllables Russian-born: Kissin, Repin, Maisky.
    Three syllables international, born on (or in) three different continents: Argerich, Vengerov, Isserlis.
    Each one of my three trios includes one musician from the Barcelona group.

  • CRWang says:

    Lang Lang, Vanessa Mae, and Nana Ouyang. Million dollar vulgarity, pennies musicality.

  • Dennis Ferry says:

    Who the F cares? Really!

  • Timothy Hammond says:

    Given that Bell and Isserlis have had a history of collaborating since the 80’s, I think this is a great match. Can’t wait to hear some recordings!

  • MacroV says:

    Apparently a million dollars doesn’t buy what it used to (and for those ready to take offense – humour often doesn’t seem to travel on this site – yes, I’m joking).

  • Roland says:

    I line very much the trio Faust Queyras Melnikov, any trio with Gidon Kremer – I remember well a concert of his trio with Giedre Dirvanauskaite and Khatia Buniatishvili- , any trio with Martha Argerich, and mentioning these two names, of course their trio with the wonderful Mischa Maisky. Not a million dollar trio, but a billion goose pinples trio: the marvellous Moscow Rachmaninov Trio.

  • Alex says:

    Will all respect to Josh Bell, he’s not in the same category as the other two.
    Here are my picks:
    1) Yuja Wang, Augustin Hadelich, Yo-Yo Ma
    2) Marta Argerich, Leonidas Kavakos, Yo-Yo Ma

  • Zandonai says:

    Seriously, this is my million dollar trio: Daniil Trifonov, Hilary Hahn, Sol Gabetta

  • Daniel A. says:

    How about million dollar trio – kids edition?:
    Alexander Malofeev, piano
    Daniel Lozakovich, violin
    Sheku Kannah-Mason, cello

  • Edgar Self says:

    YoYo-JaJa-Nono and Rattle-Battle-Ax

  • Alexander T says:

    Jascha Heifetz, Joshua Bell…….
    Grigor Piatigorsky, Steven Isserlis…..
    Words like comedown and diminishing returns spring to mind.
    Rubinstein was never in the same league as his colleagues, and as such was the weakest link.
    The choice of pianist, therefore, is of lesser interest.

    • Marfisa says:

      Alexander T III Jr: 2085
      “Joshua Bell, Ignaz Headingley …
      Stephen Isserlis, Gloria van Heusen …
      Words like comedown and diminishing returns spring to mind …”
      Rubinstein the weakest link – are you serious?

      • Alexander T says:

        Very serious. Rubinstein was nowhere near as good a musician as Heifetz and Piatigorsky, be it musically or technically (can you seriously imagine either one of them playing with the casual disregard for technical accuracy that characterised some of Rubinstein’s performances?).

  • buxtehude says:

    A friend was present at Ravinia way back when, for a performance by Joseph Suk, Yo-Yo Ma and James Dick, the Texas pianist.

    Ma announced it to the audience as the first appearance of the Suk-Ma-Dick trio. (Honest.)

  • Zandonai says:

    Horowitz – Heifetz – Rostropovich

  • Edgar Self says:

    The Horowitz-Stern-Rostroopovich trio existed long enough to perform and record one movement of Tchaikovsky’s trio at the xconcert to save Carfnegie Hall.

    I’m a strong admirer or Rubinstein’s chamber music, particularly the Archduke trio, Schumann quintet, and Brahms G-minor quartet.