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Beethoven: Bagatelles Op 33, 119 & 126, Etc / Alfred Brendel

Release Date: 11/25/1997 
Label:  Philips   Catalog #: 456031   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 17 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Listening to Beethoven’s Bagatelles can be like looking over the composer’s shoulder as he works. A scrap of a theme, a repeated chord, a formulaic accompanying figure – an idea too simple even to be banal – suddenly blossoms into something rich and strange; the one-dimensional turns magically into the three-dimensional. One can imagine Beethoven strumming absently at the keyboard, then crying “Eureka!” and rummaging frantically for his pencil. An unassuming little Andante con moto tune dissolves into a cadenza, then emerges transfigured in ecstatic counterpoint (Op. 126 No. 1); an innocent, almost plain folk-melody reappears floating on high, a voice from another world (Op. 119 No. 11). And so often in the Bagatelles humour is at the core. Read more If there’s such a thing as profound levity, this is it. I forget who it was who said that pianists ought to be compelled to play the Bagatelles before they attempted the ‘serious’ Beethoven, but I’d endorse it all the way.

Alfred Brendel, who has written so effectively about humour in Beethoven, plainly revels in this aspect of the Bagatelles. The quirkiness, the delight in pulling the rug from under the listener’s feet – he seems to have made it all his own. One could argue with the approach here or there – Op. 119 No. 5 struck me as more laboured than Risoluto; the strange half-pedal at the end of Op. 119 No. 3 produces a momentarily metallic aura around the notes – but more often, much more often, character and texture are calculated to a nicety. And could any merely human pianist be expected to please in every single one of these hugely contrasted miniatures? Even the great Schnabel made some odd decisions – his Op. 126 No. 1 strikes me as insensitively fast. Brendel also conveys a sense of Op. 126 as – in Beethoven’s own words – a “cycle of Bagatelles”, the extraordinary No. 11 (a gorgeous Andante amabile framed by music-hall fanfares) making a very thought-provoking finale.

In their altogether different way these performances are every bit as perceptive as Stephen Kovacevich’s earlier recordings (also Philips) – and the sound here is fuller and more immediate. Strongly recommended.

-- Stephen Johnson, Gramophone [1/1998]
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Works on This Recording

Bagatelles (7) for Piano, Op. 33 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1801-1802; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 09/1996 
Rondo for Piano in C major, Op. 51 no 1 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: ?1797; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 09/1996 
Allegretto for Piano in C minor, WoO 53 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1796-1797; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 09/1996 
Bagatelles (11) for Piano, Op. 119 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1820-1822; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 09/1996 
Bagatelles (6) for Piano, Op. 126 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1824; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 09/1996 
Bagatelle for Piano in B flat major, WoO 60 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1818; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 09/1996 
Bagatelle for Piano in A minor, WoO 59 "Für Elise" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1808; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 03/1984 

Sound Samples

7 Bagatelles, Op.33: 1. Andante grazioso, quasi Allegretto
7 Bagatelles, Op.33: 2. Scherzo (Allegro)
7 Bagatelles, Op.33: 3. Allegretto
7 Bagatelles, Op.33: 4. Andante
7 Bagatelles, Op.33: 5. Allegro, ma non troppo
7 Bagatelles, Op.33: 6. Allegretto quasi Andante
7 Bagatelles, Op.33: 7. Presto
Rondo in C, Op.51, No.1
Allegretto in C minor, WoO 53
11 Bagatelles, Op.119: 1. Allegretto
11 Bagatelles, Op.119: 2. Andante con moto
11 Bagatelles, Op.119: 3. ŕ l'Allemande
11 Bagatelles, Op.119: 4. Andante cantabile
11 Bagatelles, Op.119: 5. Risoluto
11 Bagatelles, Op.119: 6. Andante - Allegretto leggiermente
11 Bagatelles, Op.119: 7. Allegro ma non troppo
11 Bagatelles, Op.119: 8. Moderato cantabile
11 Bagatelles, Op.119: 9. Vivace moderato
11 Bagatelles, Op.119: 10. Allegramente
11 Bagatelles, Op.119: 11. Andante, ma non troppo
6 Bagatelles, Op.126: 1. Andante con moto
6 Bagatelles, Op.126: 2. Allegro
6 Bagatelles, Op.126: 3. Andante
6 Bagatelles, Op.126: 4. Presto
6 Bagatelles, Op.126: 5. Quasi Allegretto
6 Bagatelles, Op.126: 6. Presto - Andante amabile e con moto
Klavierstück (Bagatelle) in B flat, WoO 60
Bagatelle in A minor, WoO 59 -"Für Elise"

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