Beethoven: Bagatelles and Dances, Vol. 1

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COMPOSERS: Beethoven
WORKS: Bagatelles and Dances, Vol. 1
CATALOGUE NO: 8.553795
The Hungarian pianist Jeno Jandó is one of Naxos’s stalwart recording artists and with this recording of Beethoven miniatures it is easy to see why. His playing is crisp, spirited and convincing – and it needs to be, since there is a lot of triple-time music here which, in a less involving performance, could start to become monotonous. Jandó even manages to play Für Elise seriously and beautifully, rather as if nobody had heard it before. Among the dances and bagatelles that ensue, there lurks some very extraordinary and often very little-known music. The 41-second, undated Bagatelle in C major, made up largely of terse motifs, bizarre tonal shifts and ferociously rapid repeated notes, must be one of the most peculiar pieces the composer ever penned for the piano. The sets of dances, some of which are piano arrangements of pieces commissioned from Beethoven for the Redoutensaal Ball of 1795, are inventive and pleasing – though the Minuet in G will, like Für Elise, be all too familiar to anyone who was once a piano beginner. The acoustic is a little dry and occasionally it is possible to hear a quiet thump from the pedal motion. Jessica Duchen