Beethoven Explored, Volume 6 – The Chamber Eroica
This is a very important recording, as it is the first time the original piano quartet version of the Eroica Symphony has been recorded. (it should not be confused with the arrangement by Ferdinand Ries published 50 years later).
This anonymous arrangement was made at Beethoven’s insistence (though he had requested a string quintet) and published in 1807, three years after the orchestral premiere. The writing is far superior to that of Ries in the later version, and this work stands as a fine and magisterial piano quartet in its own right.
A brilliant performance means that this album is a must for everyone – and at low price too.
Ludwig van Beethoven:
- I. Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 55 – I. Allegro con brio (18:18)
- II. Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 55 – II. Marcia Funebre: Adagio assai (13:22)
- III. Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 55 – III. Scherzo: Allegro vivace (6:13)
- IV. Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 55 – IV. Allegro molto (11:08)
Created during Beethoven’s lifetime and commissioned by the composer himself. A must listen to!!!”
I was seriously impressed by this present arrangement of Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony for piano quartet. The detail that this chamber version adds is revelatory: I found myself noticing shades of significance that I had not discovered in the original. In many ways, this recording is more than a mere transcription: it is a ‘masterful chamber work’ in its own right. The playing on this CD is superb: meticulous, nuanced and controlled. This is an ideal recording with the players working together to deliver what is truly a masterpiece. The next time I choose to listen to the Eroica Symphony, it may well be in this version.” —John France
This recording (the first ever) provides the modern-day listener with a keen insight as to what the composer had in mind with respect to chamber arrangements of his orchestral works. And without the use of period instruments, the four performers admirably evoke a rightful sense of grandeur in this majestic symphony. The disc is to be commended on two levels: exemplary performances by the four musicians; and for providing the present-day listener with a glimpse into a particular facet of music-making during the early 19th century. Highly recommended.” —Richard Haskell
[The musicians] play marvelously together, as if they had been doing so for years. And how does this reduction of the Eroica itself sound? Quite satisfying! by and large, the experience of being introduced to this reduced version of the Eroica satisfies one’s curiosity and pleases. The CD is handsomely packaged. This listener highly recommends it.” —Rafael de Acha
The piano quartet version … gives us a very cogently boiled-down version of the classic symphony, yes, but in hearing it we experience the work on entirely different terms, as chamber music. Perhaps surprisingly the music wears its chamber identity quite well. Part of this has to do with the quality of the transcription. The chamber quartet enter into the spirit of the music with enthusiasm and joy, with style and great grace. They give to the music all the Beethovenesque stylings one could ask for. I for one find this recording enlightening and quite a joy to hear. Bravo!” —Grego Edwards
Due to the compact instrumentation, each voice appears significantly more accessible. In an unbeknown way one can feel to be closer to the composition: the harmonic and rhythmic peculiarities gain in importance, because the dramatic sound of the orchestra is omitted. The strings display convincing skill, using a transparent presentation of vibrato, and pianist Shorr is convincing with discreet precision.” —Sebastian Herold
The full orchestral piece is reduced to four instruments but retains much of the power of the original piece, while simplifying what the listener hears. It’s powerful but lacks the pomp of the full version (a good thing). We reckon it’s a very digestible arrangement; it really will have you thinking Oooh, so THIS is what all the fuss is about.” —Jeremy Condliffe
The piano quartet adaptation of Beethoven’s Third Symphony provides the opportunity to listen to the piece as if it were a new composition. A significant share of this experience is due to the excellent performers. Whoever expected a dry, bloodless Beethoven, will be pleasantly surprised. The orchestral sound is not missing at any moment. This recording allows a fantastic insight into Beethoven’s composition workshop and allows us to experience the Third Symphony in a way as a new masterpiece. Conclusion: a splendid recording, characterized by technical meticulousness, historic-style sensitivity and post-creation sensibility.” —Michael Pitz-Grewenig
This version for piano quartet delivers a refreshingly purified and, with its rich detail, a surprising new perception of the (assumed) homage to Napoleon Bonaparte. The pianist Aaron Shorr, violinist Peter Sheppard Skærved, viola player Dov Scheindlin and cellist Neil Heyde play this transcription with such verve and energy, that the orchestra is almost never missed. Thanks to the outstanding, well-rehearsed and well-balanced quartet the devoted Beethoven-fan can take an exciting new look at the beloved and brilliant symphony.”
The anonymous transcriber [… it must seem very likely that it was Beethoven himself … ] not only distributed most of the pitches of the original among the forces with remarkable skill, but also forged a convincing piece of chamber music in its own right out of the symphonic original. The ear is often drawn to previously less noticeable features of the score through its presentation via such different forces. The instrumentalists are equally accomplished, perhaps particularly Aaron Shorr, whose impressive pianism provides a staunch backbone to the ensemble.” —Tom Cooper
The piano quartet adaptation of Beethoven’s Third Symphony provides the opportunity to listen to the piece as if it were a new composition. A significant share of this experience is due to the excellent performers. Whoever expected a dry, bloodless Beethoven, will be pleasantly surprised. The orchestral sound is not missing at any moment. This recording allows a fantastic insight into Beethoven’s composition workshop and allows us to experience the Third Symphony in a way as a new masterpiece. Conclusion: a splendid recording, characterized by technical meticulousness, historic-style sensitivity and post-creation sensibility.” —Neville Cohn
It takes an exceptional performance to prevent a more comfortable feeling of familiarity taking over. I was expecting that this disc would have largely the interest of an historical curiosity and was amazed that right from the opening those original feelings of excitement and wonder returned. The listener hears the Symphony in a new way, wondering what will come next and often surprised by apparently new detail. I suspect that my enthusiasm may in part be due to the quality of the performance, which meets all the challenges of the scale of the work in an impressive fashion. Ally this with a well balanced and clear recording and the result is a disc which is worth having no matter how many versions you have of the original.” —John Sheppard