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Beethoven: Fantasies For Piano / Steven Beck


Release Date: 02/02/2013 
Label:  Monument Records   Catalog #: 5455   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Steven Beck
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 56 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



BEETHOVEN Piano Sonatas: in D, B 213 (realized Holsbergen); No. 13 in E?; No. 14, “Moonlight.” Fantasia in g, op. 77 Steven Beck (pn) MONUMENT 5455 (55: 56)


This is, more or less, a companion CD to a disc on this same label of string quartet transcriptions, arrangements, and reconstructions of sketches and fragments found in Beethoven’s workbooks. And once Read more again, Dutch musicologist Willem Holsbergen plays a key role.


The impetus for this release, titled “Beethoven: Fantasias for Piano,” is a fairly substantial draft of what appears to be a three-movement piano sonata that Beethoven never completed. “Fairly substantial” may be a bit generous, given that the sketches, residing in the Kafka Miscellany collection of the British Library, contain extended passages of unharmonized melody lines and a finale that is skeletal at best. It was first transcribed by well-known musicologist Joseph Kerman, who believed the piece to be an early (probably around 1792) experiment in the type of hybrid sonata-fantasia that 10 years later would give birth to Beethoven’s two sonata quasi una fantasia works , of which op. 27/2 is the celebrated “Moonlight” Sonata.


Logically then, Willem Holsbergen’s realization of the Sonata quasi una fantasia in D Major, listed as number 213 in the Biamonti catalog of Beethoven miscellany, is presented here along with both of the op. 27 sonatas, as well as the seldom heard 1807 Fantasia in G Minor, op. 77, commissioned from Beethoven by Muzio Clementi. Of Holsbergen’s effort, I’m tempted to say that he is no Beethoven. But considering the barrenness of musical content and the absence of Beethoven’s strong characteristic imprint on this rough draft, it’s probably fairer to say that Beethoven hasn’t given Holsbergen a lot to go on.


Steven Beck is an accomplished, though little recorded, American pianist who graduated from Juilliard, where he studied with Peter Serkin and Seymour Lipkin, among others. He more than proves his mettle in these performances; but unfortunately, unless you have a specific interest in hearing Holsbergen’s hypothetical completion of a work that Beethoven was wise to abandon, it’s not an easy thing for Beck to claw his way to the top of the heap in the op. 27 sonatas, especially the “Moonlight,” of which there are nearly 200 (!) current listings—too many nostrils gasping for air. Even the lesser-known op. 77 Fantasia can be heard on recordings by Schnabel, Edwin Fischer, Rudolf Serkin, Alfred Brendel, and Jonathan Biss.


The playing is excellent and the recording is solid, if a bit tight and slightly airless sounding.


FANFARE: Jerry Dubins
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Works on This Recording

1.
Kafka Miscellany Sketches [Add.29997]: [Untitled] Composition for Piano in D major, ff. 90r-95r by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Steven Beck (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Venue:  Studio House North, Capitol Heights, Mar 
Length: 18 Minutes 52 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Albert Willem Holsbergen.
Studio House North, Capitol Heights, Maryland (12/20/2005 - 12/21/2005) 
2.
Sonata for Piano no 13 in E flat major, Op. 27 no 1 "Quasi una fantasia" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Steven Beck (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1800-1801; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  Studio House North, Capitol Heights, Mar 
Length: 13 Minutes 41 Secs. 
Notes: Studio House North, Capitol Heights, Maryland (12/20/2005 - 12/21/2005) 
3.
Sonata for Piano no 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 27 no 2 "Moonlight" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Steven Beck (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1801; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  Studio House North, Capitol Heights, Mar 
Length: 14 Minutes 24 Secs. 
Notes: Studio House North, Capitol Heights, Maryland (12/20/2005 - 12/21/2005) 
4.
Fantasia for Piano in G minor, Op. 77 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Steven Beck (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1809; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  Studio House North, Capitol Heights, Mar 
Length: 8 Minutes 49 Secs. 
Notes: Studio House North, Capitol Heights, Maryland (12/20/2005 - 12/21/2005) 

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