Piano Pieces and Fragments – sketches, miniatures, cadenzas, transcriptions and arrangements
Sergio Gallo (piano)
Naxos 8.574131 85:46 mins
This disc is very much for Beethoven completists: some 86 minutes of little-known variations, bagatelles, canonic exercises, cadenzas for Mozart’s D minor Piano Concerto and the piano version of his own Violin Concerto, plus thematic ideas and fragments culled and edited from his sketch books. The earliest piece is 9 Variations on a C minor March by Dressler by the ten-year-old Beethoven, published by his proud teacher Neefe two years later; the last is Diabelli’s piano transcription of the introduction to a quintet Beethoven had just started when he died.
The shortest fragment is an Allegro in C, all of ten seconds; the longest, a weird, skeletal 21-minute sketch, apparently for a sonata in D, vividly suggesting just how hard Beethoven would have had to work to fill out and characterise his initial jottings. The only familiar piece is the Bagatelle ‘Für Elise’ – though heard here with some small changes Beethoven made late on. All of these are delivered with proficient sympathy by Sergio Gallo in a close but spacious recorded acoustic. Are there any revelations? Some of the thematic ideas are charming and could have been extended into bagatelles to match Beethoven’s published sets. But, intermittently intriguing, the collection is more often frustrating.