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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67466
Recording details: September 2003
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: November 2004
Total duration: 12 minutes 27 seconds

'This completes the Florestan Trio's Beethoven series. I've been impressed throughout by their thoughtfulness, the way each passage is presented to maximum effect. There's an overall Florestan style too,—avoiding heaviness, keeping the textures light and airy, and giving every phrase an individual life and character' (Gramophone)

'This final instalment of the Florestan Trio's complete Beethoven cycle is every bit as impressive as its predecessors … No one who's been following this fine series need hesitate to acquire this very well recorded disc' (BBC Music Magazine)

'a most welcome completion of a superb cycle' (International Record Review)

'With the Florestan Trio's fourth and last Hyperion CD of Beethoven's complete piano trios you enter the Elysian Fields almost straight away … This Hyperion series has already been so rapturously received that the pleasures of this last disc come as no surprise. Even so, the performances' freshness can still amaze' (The Times)

'The Florestan Trio certainly does not miss the pungency in the writing, though the hallmark of its performance is the elegance of the playing. The careful weighting of each instrument brings a pleasing transparency, creating a more richly detailed account than many of the alternative recordings' (The Strad)

Variations in E flat major, Op 44
composer
circa 1792 (sketches); first published in 1804

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
In this work, Beethoven responded to the contemporary fashion for sets of variations on popular themes from operas. Carl von Dittersdorf’s Singspiel Das rote Käppchen (‘The little red cap’) was first produced in Vienna in 1788 and reached Bonn in 1792, during Beethoven’s last months there. One of the opera’s hit numbers was the naive ditty ‘Ja, ich muss von ihr scheiden’ (‘Yes, I must part from her’), which Beethoven duly took as the starting point for the Variations in E flat major, Op 44 for piano trio. The work was probably finished by the time the composer left Bonn (a brief sketch dated 1792 survives), though it did not appear in print until 1804 – hence the misleadingly high opus number.

Dittersdorf’s comically rudimentary tune is a vision of dry bones, as bare as the famous ‘Eroica’ theme which it faintly resembles. On it Beethoven builds fourteen variations, decorative in the eighteenth-century tradition (the theme is always easily recognizable), but entertainingly contrasted in spirit and texture. The lusty, syncopated tenth variation, for instance, is followed by an almost exaggeratedly demure dialogue for the strings, while the delicately tripping twelfth is disrupted by an uncouth fortissimo outburst – Beethoven gleefully sticking out his tongue at rococo decorum. There are two slow variations in E flat minor (No 7 and No 13), a jolly, ‘hunting-style’ 6/8 final variation and a coda that recalls No 13, now in C minor, before a brief Presto send-off.

from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2004

Other albums featuring this work
'Beethoven: The Complete Music for Piano Trio' (CDS44471/4)
Beethoven: The Complete Music for Piano Trio
MP3 £20.00FLAC £20.00ALAC £20.00Buy by post £22.00 CDS44471/4  4CDs Boxed set (at a special price)  
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