One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

Up to 40% off

  Founder: Len Mullenger


Crotchet   AmazonUK   AmazonUS

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Contemporary Arrangements for Chamber Ensemble.

Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13, ‘Pathétique’ (1799, arr. publ.Haslinger). Symphonies: No. 1 in C, Op. 21 (1800, arr. publ. Simrock, c1803); No. 8 in F, Op. 93 (1814, arr. publ. Haslinger 1816)
Locrian Ensemble/Rolf Wilson, Rita Ma.
Rec. St. Martin’s Church, East Woodhay, Berkshire on May 27th, 2002 (Op. 13); St. Silas Church, Chalk Farm, London, on January 13th-14th, 2002 (rest).
GUILD GMCD7274 [DDD] [69’54]


An interesting concept, brought off with real élan. All of these arrangements are contemporary with the composer (all within Beethoven’s lifetime). The snag is no-one’s quite sure who did them. The Pathétique arrangement was published in 1807 (or thereabouts) by Tobias Haslinger, who may have been the arranger himself. Actually, it is remarkably effective, once the shock of the opening chord is over. Instead of a hard-edged piano accent, the strings are more cushioned, taking away some of the visceral nature of the moment. The performance by the Locrian Ensemble is alive, if curiously somewhat distanced. Part-writing is by the very nature of the beast clearer and a C-minor energy does flow throughout the first movement.

The famous slow movement is very lyrical and restful (when one plays it there is a tendency to think in terms of the string quartet, anyway – it is even notated to imply a quartet of some description!). The finale has a relevant feeling of forward motion, unfortunately sagging in the middle (as the players seem to get a little self-indulgent).

The Eighth Symphony is next in playing order (the listed playing order on the front cover is exactly in reverse!). It’s amazing how much energy the Locrian Ensemble brings to the first movement; even the very opening is the requisite explosion of joy! This is furious and zesty playing - it really sounds as if they went for it in the studio! The diminuendo in the opening bars of the ‘mechanistic’ second movement may raise eyebrows (it demeans the tick-tock element) and the third movement is perhaps not as muscular as it could be. The finale too suffers from a low-voltage approach.

The First Symphony is more consistently charged and alive. While certain elements are certainly demeaned by the reduced scoring, cheeky exchanges work remarkably well. The brisk tempo for the slow movement is perhaps surprising, but it actually exactly reflects the designation. It is the finale that is the highlight here, definitely comedic and rhythmically on-the-ball. It’s just a little bit tame towards the end; this is a young man’s music, after all.

This is a superb, thoroughly enjoyable disc. Michael Ponder’s recording (he is both Producer and Balance Engineer) is superb, with just the right mount of space, yet letting through all the detail.

Well worth investigation. The Locrian Ensemble excels itself. Do try and hear this disc.

Colin Clarke

We are currently offering in excess of 52,619 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Return to Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.