Ozarts Review

How inconvenient and irritating concertgoing must have been for music aficionados in, say, the early 1800s if they lived away from cities or large towns.

If they’d read about Mr Beethoven’s astonishing new symphonies in, say, the early years of the 19 th century, how would they have been able to listen to these works unless they lived in a city with a resident orchestra or one or other amateur band?

No electricity, no radio, no recordings, no TV existed then – nor had they yet been dreamed of. So it became standard practice for composers – or others – to arrange large scale works for much smaller ensembles which made these works far more portable than would than would otherwise have been the case.

Here, for instance, we listen to Beethoven’s Eroica symphony in an 1807 transcription for piano quartet. And while it is obviously impossible for four players to convey the sound and overall impact of a full orchestra, the arrangement is so clever and the playing so skilled that even the most demanding of concertgoers would, I think, feel compelled to agree that in the absence of a full orchestra, this performance is an impressive alternative.

Throughout, the playing is masterly and satisfying – and the recording engineers have done a first rate job. It’s well worth a place in a good CD collection.

—Neville Cohn