are three juvenile works from a composer who took until his
mid-twenties to write very much that is memorable, individual
and worthy of opus numbers; no Mendelssohn here. However there
is a certain charm present in these works and at times present
on these recordings. There are few single discs of these works
and as an anthology of unfamiliar pieces this is a good release.
Piano Concerto in E dates from Beethoven’s fifteenth year and
was previously reconstructed from the piano part by Willy Hess
(1943). There is a workmanlike version by Eva Ander in DG’s
“Complete Beethoven”. The version for this new recording is
by the conductor here: Jon Ceander Mitchell. The piece has its
good points; notably the jaunty finale but otherwise its small
ideas outstay their welcome. I found the fifteen minutes of
the slow movement (ten minutes on DG) interminable; not one
I’ll return to often.
Romance is very adequately performed and there
are very alternative few versions available. There is a superior
version on DG played by the Gallois brothers and Myung Whun
Chung piano/conductor. This benefits from being only five as
opposed to nine minutes (i.e. less repeats). This however is
in a very good five disc set. I have just acquired a single
disc released by Felicia Blumental on Brana. (for future review).
The present version is in better sound and I’m impressed by
the three players working well together. I don’t know of any
other concerto with piano, flute and bassoon.
from Ritterballet is probably the
best piece here. It is certainly pleasant and at times like
a Mozart divertimento. However there is a recurrent theme -
vaguely similar to “The Foggy Foggy Dew” - which in this recording
gets slightly monotonous. The version I have is by the BPO under
Karajan - when he was good he was brilliant - which not surprisingly
is in a different class altogether.
CD features good piano playing from Grigorios Zamparas and whilst
far from being an essential purchase I enjoyed listening to
these early examples of Beethoven’s music. Certainly most fifteen
year olds would be delighted to produce these works but I’m
unsure if they’d wanted them played two hundred years later!
The test is whether they’d be played if they were by Herr Dunsmore.
I guess the answer for the first two pieces is Nein!
David R Dunsmore