Ludwig van Beethoven – Ronald Brautigam – Eroica, Variations (1796-1802)
SACD ISO (2.0/MCH): 3,60 GB | 24B/88,2kHz Stereo FLAC: 1,19 GB | Full Artwork | 3% Recovery Info
Label/Cat#: BIS # BIS-SACD-1673 | Country/Year: Sweden 2012
Genre: Classical | Style: Classical Period, Piano
The chief reason to buy this disc is for Brautigam’s dazzling performance of the Eroica Variations.
Infrequently played and recorded merely because it’s not one of the numbered 32 sonatas, the Eroica Variations is a clever, virtuoso work from the beginning of Beethoven’s second period. It exhibits the same kind of nervous energy as the 2nd Symphony, which this performance embodies.
Unlike many theme-and-variation pieces which can be a bit pedantic, instead of just stating the theme and going through a few contained variations, Beethoven opens the piece with the bass line to the main theme, puts it through three variations, then states the whole theme, puts it through 15 variations, and finally closes the work with a finale that includes a fugue.
Brautigam’s playing is brash, highlighting the dynamic contrasts of the music. He effectively pounds out the three dotted 8th note section of the theme that are peppered throughout the work. As I said before, the spirit of the 2nd Symphony (completed the same year as the Eroica Variations) permeates this performance.
As for the sound of the fortepiano, it works quite well. In the second variation, for example, its wiry sound is a natural fit with all the 16th notes.
The other variations on the disc date from Beethoven’s first period. While Brautigam and BIS deserve much praise for recording all of Beethoven’s solo keyboard music (has anyone else ever done this?), compared to the Eroica Variations, they are a bit inconsequential.
Like the previous releases in this series, BIS’s sound is excellent. All I can say are the usually adjectives of praise.
Since I received this disc a month and a half ago I’ve probably listened to the Eroica Variations nearly 20 times — like the previous releases, it’s Beethoven played to perfection. SA-CD.net