Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Beethoven by Arrangement, Vol. I
Viola Sonata in A major: fragment [0:27]
Horn Sonata in F major, Op. 17 (arr. Silverthorne) (1800) [11:26]
Notturno in D major (arr. Karl Xaver Kleinheinz (1765–1832)) Op. 42 (1803) [28:49]
Septet (Grand Duo) in E flat major, Op. 20 (arr. Friedrich Hermann (1828–1907), rev. Silverthorne) (1798-9) [37:51]
Paul Silverthorne (viola); David Owen Norris (piano)
rec. Ferrandou, France, 23-26 June 2009. DDD
first recordings of all but the Notturno
This CD is the first in one of Toccata’s many series – almost as many as Naxos. This one is Beethoven by Arrangement.
As far as we know Beethoven, himself a violist, completed no works for the viola as principal instrument. The absence of a local viola virtuoso or at least a viola commissioner might well have been the reason. Others stepped into the breach.
This disc documents their arrangements. Before doing so it documents the 27 second torso of a Viola Sonata he began but never completed. It’s typically assertive and lively. Paul Silverthorne who is the guiding mind and hand behind this project arranged the compact three-movement Horn Sonata. It was written originally for the celebrated horn-player Giovanni Punto. It works rather fluently with its pulsingly dynamic and tenderly noble outer movements framing a mournfully captivating little Poco Adagio. Karl Kleinheinz was a contemporary of Beethoven and turned his musical skills to bear on two works for string trio: the opp. 8 and 25 – the latter arranged for flute. The seven movement Serenade for String Trio op. 8 became the Notturno for viola and piano. It’s in the mood and manner of Mozart’s cassations and serenades with witty movements alternating with more pensive and serious ones. The Allegretto alla Polacca is especially attractive. Friedrich Hermann, a pupil of Mendelssohn at Leipzig, did the same service for the much arranged Septet op. 20 – here appositely dubbed the Grand Duo. It’s an even more extended work at forty minutes than the Notturno this time across six movements. The music is from the high watermark of Beethoven’s early period and rewards close attention as well as casual overhearing. After much profundity the finale’s Marcia and Presto end proceedings with gleaming-eyed cheer and urbane confidence. Intakes of breath can be distracting but I only really noticed them from Silverthorne in the Andante segment of the Grand Duo’s finale. Silverthorne’s playing on the Amati viola is impassioned and completely in-style. David Owen Norris is always not merely reliable but ready with apt and lucid playing; so it proves here.
The liner-notes are by Paul Silverthorne who is Principal Viola of the London Symphony Orchestra. I recall him as the violist who premiered the Thea Musgrave concerto in 1991. He was also the violist for the very late Rozsa Viola Concerto recorded by Koch International circa 1998. Toccata Press have Silverthorne’s Beethoven Edition comprising the Grand Duo and the op. 17 Sonata in preparation. Violists will be pleased and so should their audiences.
The recording was made on a Viennese Blümel piano (1865) and a Brothers Amati viola (1620).
Lively and touching Beethoven voiced for the piano and viola. Viola players and the world’s curious Beethovenians will need to have this.

Rob Barnett
Lively and touching Beethoven voiced for the piano and viola.