Beethoven: For 4-hand piano (Delphian)

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Singing Valentines / Valentins chantants

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I’m guessing not many readers are familiar with Beethoven’s Sonata in D, opus 6. Published in 1797, though possibly dating from the composer’s teens, it begins with the unmistakable opening phrase of the Fifth Symphony. Seriously? That work that did not achieve fruition for another decade. Like me, you may have trouble believing your ears at the arresting confidence of this two-movement piece. It’s unremarkable in most other ideas except for the ta-ta-ta-taaa and the Beethoven signature that pulses through every second.

The British pianists Peter Hill and Benjamin Frith have teamed up here to take us into some wholly unexpected corners of Beethoven’s chaotic work desk. Eight variations on a theme by Count Waldstein, for instance. The theme itself is vapid, but once Beethoven gets to work on variations we are immediately in Eroica territory and all works stops until he’s done. Likewise 6 variations on ‘Ich denke dein’, a little ditty for two pretty sisters that he fancied.

The crowning discovery is a four-hand reduction of the epic Grosse Fuge, opus 134, practically a deathbed work and therefore indispensable to our grasp of Beethoven’s valediction. Never heard it before? The playing is utterly convincing.

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This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)

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About Author

Norman Lebrecht is a prolific writer on music and cultural affairs. His blog, Slipped Disc, is one of the most popular sites for cultural news. He presents The Lebrecht Interview on BBC Radio 3 and is a contributor to several publications, including the Wall Street Journal and The Standpoint. Visit every Friday for his weekly CD review // Norman Lebrecht est un rédacteur prolifique couvrant les événements musicaux et Slipped Disc, est un des plus populaires sites de nouvelles culturelles. Il anime The Lebrecht Interview sur la BBC Radio 3 et collabore à plusieurs publications, dont The Wall Street Journal et The Standpoint. Vous pouvez lire ses critiques de disques chaque vendredi.

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