Beethoven's Bagatelles

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Belle
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Beethoven's Bagatelles

Post by Belle » Thu Dec 27, 2018 11:44 pm

I was listening to these last week on my IPod Classic during a very long train journey, and really thinking about these works. In a sense they're a 'compendium' of Beethoven's piano style throughout his career. The recording of these works posted below isn't especially compelling, it has to be said. I have Alfred Brendel, whom I much prefer.

Some things to say about the Bagatelles; Op. 33/6 in C is quirky and reminiscent of Mozart and Beethoven's earlier style. For me, it's the most interesting of Op. 33.

Op. 119/4 in A is tender and elegant and Haydnesque. 119/5 is full of Beethovenian energy, complete with grace notes (appoggiaturas) and this Bagatelle has a somewhat dissonant quality. Op. 119/11 is charming and serene, sounding the most melodically uncomplicated but, as usual with Beethoven, there's much going on underneath. Op. 126/1 is the most interesting of all these Bagatelles for me; this one reflects Beethoven's aesthetic very well in terms of harmony. The trills found in his earlier, more 'classical' works are found here but they are also quite dissonant. Op. 126/4 is my favourite and is the most compelling in terms of its rhythmic energy and forward momentum.

It remains enigmatic to me why, having created large and complex piano sonatas, Beethoven's final utterances for his instrument should take the form of these later, Op. 126 Bagatelles (miniatures).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3aBqGQApcWk

Lance
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Re: Beethoven's Bagatelles

Post by Lance » Fri Dec 28, 2018 12:41 am

Brahms was a bit like Beethoven in his later life having created those last pieces that comprise his Opp. 116 through 119, though they are certainly much more complex in their writing than Beethoven's Bagatelles though precious the latter are. Beethoven could write the most complex piano sonatas and turn around and write such well-known little gems as "Für Elise." So many pianists have recorded all three sets of Beethoven's Bagatelles it is difficult to keep up with all of them.

My most favourite of the Opp. 33, 119, and 126, plus the WoO ones has been the Op. 33 recorded by Rudolf Serkin. If you have a chance to hear this recording, I implore you to do so. What the mind of Serkin does to these pieces is memorable beyond words. He makes little diamonds of them all!
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John F
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Re: Beethoven's Bagatelles

Post by John F » Fri Dec 28, 2018 3:56 am

These are among the first sets of short character pieces, comparable with Schubert's Impromptus and Moments Musicals [sic], and many of them bear comparison with the short piano pieces of Schumann and Brahms. Sviatoslav Richter recorded only these three bagatelles from op. 126, for some reason known only to him:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVx_yzLhPt4
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Donald Isler
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Re: Beethoven's Bagatelles

Post by Donald Isler » Fri Dec 28, 2018 10:44 am

I haven't heard many recordings of Op. 126 that I like. Heard the kovacevich recording recently and thought it wasn't bad but found the slow pieces lightweight. My favorite recordings of these pieces are Schnabel's and mine.
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Rach3
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Re: Beethoven's Bagatelles

Post by Rach3 » Fri Dec 28, 2018 11:53 am

Fww. I have pianist Jeno Jando's Naxos cd of the complete Opa.33,119 and 126, very good price, sound, and playing, with good reviews at Amazon-US as well.Op.126, # 5 my fav of the lot, reminds me a bit of the late sonatas.

Belle
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Re: Beethoven's Bagatelles

Post by Belle » Fri Dec 28, 2018 12:33 pm

Donald Isler wrote:
Fri Dec 28, 2018 10:44 am
I haven't heard many recordings of Op. 126 that I like. Heard the kovacevich recording recently and thought it wasn't bad but found the slow pieces lightweight. My favorite recordings of these pieces are Schnabel's and mine.
Haven't heard the Kovacevich Bagatelles; actually have heard very few recordings of them. The one I have by Brendel is very good, I have to say.

Belle
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Re: Beethoven's Bagatelles

Post by Belle » Fri Dec 28, 2018 12:34 pm

John F wrote:
Fri Dec 28, 2018 3:56 am
These are among the first sets of short character pieces, comparable with Schubert's Impromptus and Moments Musicals [sic], and many of them bear comparison with the short piano pieces of Schumann and Brahms. Sviatoslav Richter recorded only these three bagatelles from op. 126, for some reason known only to him:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVx_yzLhPt4
Absolutely wonderful!! The first of Op. 126 is so reminiscent of those very last, great piano sonatas - particularly in the way that some of the phrases have a meter which changes into a new one with the exact subsequent iterations of it!! It creates the impression of one leg being shorter than the other, seamlessly, if I can put it that way!! I'm thinking this occurs in Op. 110 or 111 - if memory serves.

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Re: Beethoven's Bagatelles

Post by Holden Fourth » Sat Dec 29, 2018 4:30 am

My favourite recording of the Bagatelles is Kovacevich on the Philips label from about 1975. It includes all of Opp 33/119/126. He made a later recording of 119/126 for EMI which is not nearly as good as his first transversal.

I can happily listen to the whole disc in one sitting such is the variety of the music.

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