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Hyperion Records

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House on the Water (1930) by Paul Klee (1879-1940)
Private Collection / Photo © Christie's Images / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67879
Recording details: July 2011
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: May 2012
Total duration: 19 minutes 13 seconds

'It's part of Osborne's personal excursion to seek the individual potency of each Bagatelle … the more you listen (aided by a plausibly lifelike recording), the clearer it'll become that Osborne has delved deep to extract so much from cameos that pack emotional enormity within small spaces' (Gramophone)

'The joy of having a player of Steven Osborne's spare, rhythmically incisive brilliance … these pieces display Beethoven's genius for creating artistic grandeur from the most miniature of pianistic forms' (The Observer)

'Steven Osborne plays with pearly, silky insouciance … this disc follows on from his one of Beethoven sonatas, and it ignites a similar joy in the way that he conveys ideas so lucidly and with such subtle shades of tone, distilling the essence of each miniature with potency and freshness' (The Daily Telegraph)

'Beautifully poised and unfailingly intelligent … the crystal clarity of Osborne's exquisitely polished pianism is an unalloyed joy to the ear' (International Record Review)

'Pure joy … Steven Osborne … plays with razor-sharp attack and articulation' (Pianist)

'Steven Osborne includes all the published bagatelles and some of the miscellaneous pieces and plays them superbly … a classy pianist' (Dominion Post, New Zealand)

'Steven Osborne's new CD of the Bagatelles, recorded with all the artistry and attention you expect from Hyperion, catches all the whimsy that Beethoven's title suggests' (The New Zealand Herald)

Six Bagatelles, Op 126
published by Schott & Co in November 1824

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Six Bagatelles of Op 126 formed Beethoven’s last work for piano. When he offered it to the publishers Schott & Co. in November 1824, together with the Consecration of the House Overture Op 124, he described the pieces as ‘6 Bagatelles or Trifles for solo piano, some of which are rather more developed and probably the best pieces of this kind I have written.’ This is, in fact, music that already belongs to the spiritual world of the late string quartets Beethoven began composing in its wake.

Unlike the composer’s previous sets of Bagatelles, the six new pieces were clearly designed to form a unified cycle from the outset. They are alternately lyrical and introspective, and fast and dramatic, with the two threads drawn together in the final number; and their keys form a descending chain of thirds, beginning in G major and minor, and ending in E flat major. Throughout the set Beethoven treats his material with remarkable freedom, transforming it through intricate ornamentation, as in No 3, or by altering its register—whether downwards into the bass (as in Nos 1 and 6), or upwards (No 5). The final Bagatelle is framed by the identical abrupt passage in Presto tempo, which serves with impeccable logic as both a beginning and an ending. Between the prelude and postlude there unfolds a leisurely and expansive Andante which offers the strongest possible contrast, while at the same time beginning in the nature of a slow-motion account of the material that surrounds it. The reprise of the opening Presto seems to dismiss out of hand the profoundly expressive world of the music that has preceded it—a typically gruff gesture, and an altogether appropriate way for Beethoven to bow out as a composer of piano music.

from notes by Misha Donat © 2012

Other albums featuring this work
'Myra Hess – The complete solo and concerto studio recordings' (APR7504)
Myra Hess – The complete solo and concerto studio recordings
MP3 £16.49FLAC £16.49ALAC £16.49 APR7504  Download only  
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