Beethoven: Variations on ‘God Save the King’ and ‘Rule, Britannia’; Bagatelles Opp. 33, 119 and 126; Fantasia in G minor, Op. 77

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COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: EMI
WORKS: Variations on ‘God Save the King’ and ‘Rule, Britannia’; Bagatelles Opp. 33, 119 and 126; Fantasia in G minor, Op. 77
PERFORMER: Melvyn Tan (Beethoven’s Broadwood fortepiano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDC 7 54526 2 DDD
There is a wonderful warmth of sound and depth of tone from the focal point of this recording – Beethoven’s fortepiano built by Thomas Broadwood in 1817, and quite magnificently restored by David Winston.

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Within the wooden frame of this six-octave instrument, each note is triple-stringed and its consistency and sustaining power are much greater than either of the Viennese replicas which Melvyn Tan has used in previous recordings.

In the present recording, Beethoven’s witty British Variations frame the three sets of Bagatelles and the Fantasia in G minor, which thus forms the core of Tan’s dazzling programme.

The first two sets of Bagatelles are aphoristic but far from insignificant. With Tan’s technique and musicianship these pieces are shaped, coloured and phrased with delicacy, precision and, when required, refreshing boldness.

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In the last and larger-scale of the three sets (Op. 126) Tan brings his exceptional grasp of this unique instrument’s capabilities to bear in a gripping performance. His dexterity in the G minor Fantasia is thrilling. Elisse McDougall