Ludwig van Beethoven
Variations WoO 77; Allegretto WoO 61; Ecossaises WoO 83
Media Review / Listening Diary 2013-03-21
2013-03-21 — Original posting (on Blogger)
2014-11-08 — Re-posting as is (WordPress)
2016-07-12 — Brushed up for better readability
- Beethoven: 6 Variations on an Original Theme, WoO 77
- Beethoven: Allegretto in B minor, WoO 61
- Beethoven: 6 Ecossaises, WoO 83
A short piano intermezzo. It covers smaller compositions by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 – 1827) …
Beethoven: 6 Variations on an Original Theme, WoO 77
Ronald Brautigam, fortepiano
Ludwig van Beethoven: Complete Works for Solo Piano, Volume 11: Variations WoO 71-73; Variations WoO 75-77; Variations op.35 (“Eroica”)
Ronald Brautigam, fortepiano (2010)
BIS-SACD-1673 (SACD stereo + surround, CD stereo); ℗ 2011 / © 2012
Olli Mustonen, piano
Ludwig van Beethoven: Variations, Dances & Bagatelles
Olli Mustonen, piano (1995)
Decca 452 206-2 (CD, stereo), ℗ / © 1996
Olli Mustonen recorded these variations in 1995, on the same CD that also features the Variations on the Minuet “à la Viganò”, WoO 68 that I discussed briefly in January. And I give him the same rating here as already in WoO 68. I like his playing: for this type of music I can hardly imagine a more refreshing, vivid interpretation on a modern concert grand! Duration: 6’03”; rating: 4.0
However, for me, the concert grand does not stand a chance against Ronald Brautigam on his fortepiano replica after an instrument by Walter & Son (Vienna, 1805). The singing tone of this instrument can’t possibly be matched on a Steinway. See also my review on the “Eroica” Variations, op.35 from the same CD. Note that op.35 is played on a replica of a fortepiano by Conrad Graf, also by Paul McNulty. Duration: 7’16”; rating: 5.0
Still, both these recordings are very well worth having!
Beethoven: Allegretto in B minor, WoO 61
Ludwig van Beethoven: “Für Elise”, The Complete Bagatelles — opp.33, 119, 126; Hess 57, 69, 73, 74; WoO 52 – 54, 56, 59 – 61, 61a
Ronald Brautigam (2010)
BIS Records, BIS-SACD-1882 (SACD); ℗ / © 2011
Olli Mustonen‘s CD (see the section above) includes Beethoven’s Allegretto in B minor, WoO 61.
That Allegretto is also included on volume 10 of Ronald Brautigam‘s complete Beethoven recording. From that CD, I already discussed the Bagatelle “Lustig und Traurig”, as well as the 6 Bagatelles op.126. Ronald Brautigam performs this on a fortepiano by Paul McNulty. It’s actually a replica of an instrument by Conrad Graf (1819). Brautigam plays a proper Allegretto, faster than Mustonen (2’06” as opposed to 3’46” with Mustonen).
Mustonen‘s interpretation may not be quite Allegretto, but gives this composition more weight, a contemplative, melancholic mood. Brautigam plays this in a hearted mood, makes it sound more like a composing attempt. Here, one can feel & hear why Beethoven probably decided not to put this movement into the context of a sonata and publish it.
I think both interpretations are good / excellent (same rating: 4.0). I don’t really know which one to prefer, as different as they are!
Beethoven: 6 Ecossaises, WoO 83
Ludwig van Beethoven: Variations, op.35; Bagatelles, op.126; 6 Ecossaises, WoO 83
Alfred Brendel, piano (1985)
Decca (Amazon MP3 download, stereo, 173 – 230 kbps)
In my basement I still have an LP with Beethoven’s 6 Ecossaises, WoO 83, played by Wilhelm Kempff in a good / reasonable, though traditional interpretation (duration: 2’35”). I still remember that fairly well. Even though it’s probably around 35 – 40 years since I last listened to that LP. The above CD with interpretations by Alfred Brendel gave me a new encounter with this lovely, short composition. As expected, Alfred Brendel offers a more “intellectual” interpretation, somewhat faster (duration: 2’02” — 6 tracks!!!), and with lighter articulation, more differentiation.
Then, there’s Olli Mustonen who also plays these Ecossaises on the CD presented in the previous section above. He is again (substantially) faster (duration: 1’37”), sparkling, with liveliness and vitality, as usual. Just brilliant, especially for these miniatures!
I obviously have a slight preference for Olli Mustonen in this. However, I give both Mustonen and Brendel top ratings.