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


Outline


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

Beethoven: vol.11 - Eroica Variations, Brautigam — CD cover

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

Beethoven: vol.11 - Eroica Variations, Brautigam — CD, EAN-13 barcode
amazon media link
spacer

Olli Mustonen, piano

Beethoven: Piano Variations, Dances, Bagatelles, Mustonen, CD cover

Ludwig van Beethoven: Variations, Dances & Bagatelles

Olli Mustonen, piano (1995)

Decca 452 206-2 (CD, stereo), ℗ / © 1996

Beethoven: Piano Variations, Dances, Bagatelles, Mustonen, CD, UPC-A barcode
amazon media link
spacer

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

Beethoven: vol.10 - Für Elise, Bagatelles, Brautigam — CD, cover

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

Beethoven: vol.10 - Für Elise, Bagatelles, Brautigam — CD, EAN-13 barcode
amazon media link
spacer

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

Beethoven: Für Elise, Eroica Variations, Bagatelles, Brendel, CD, cover

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)

Beethoven: Für Elise, Eroica Variations, Bagatelles, Brendel, CD, UPC-A barcode
amazon media link
spacer

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.


Listening Diary Posts, Overview


If you have an opinion on this posting / page, please rate it (1 = dislike, 5 = best)

Average rating: / 5. Vote count:

Be the first to rate.

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

Please share as you see fit:

AboutImpressum, LegalSite Policy | TestimonialsAcknowledgementsBlog Timeline
Typography, ConventionsWordPress Setup | Resources, ToolsPictures, Methods

Leave a reply—comments are welcome!