Hyperion Records

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

Recordings
'Beethoven: Bagatelles' (CDA67879)
Beethoven: Bagatelles
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67879  Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
'Myra Hess – The complete solo and concerto studio recordings' (APR7504)
Myra Hess – The complete solo and concerto studio recordings
APR7504  Download only  
Details
No 1 in G major: Andante con moto
No 2 in G minor: Allegro
No 3 in E flat major: Andante
No 4 in B minor: Presto
No 5 in G major: Quasi allegretto
No 6 in E flat major: Presto – Andante amabile e con moto – Tempo I

Six Bagatelles, Op 126
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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

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