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Penguin Guide, January 2009

BEETHOVEN: Bagatelles and Dances, Vol. 1 8.553795
BEETHOVEN: Bagatelles and Dances, Vol. 2 8.553798

It is always a joy to witness Beethoven relaxing. These collections of shorter piano pieces may offer no great music, but they have a freshness and vitality that is an endless delight. Jenő Jandó is at his finest in the two C minor Allegrettos and the C major Rondo. He opens the second disc with an appropriately impulsive and enjoyable account of the Op. 77 Fantasia. Elsewhere his clear, direct manner certainly evokes the spirit of Beethoven. The set of six Ecossaises (in essence, contredanses, and little to do with Scotland) are rhythmically very jolly and emerge as an exhilarating offering. The two Preludes, Op. 39, modulating through all the major keys in turn, have their fascination too. With playing fresh and clear, this is for the most part a delightful supplement to Jandó’s cycle of Beethoven sonatas for Naxos.

Richard Wigmore
BBC Music Magazine, June 2000

"Apart from the Fantasia, Op. 77, which Czerny thought conveyed a true impression of Beethoven-as-improviser, none of these assorted piano miniatures has even a toehold in the repertoire...

The omnivorous Jando, on target to become the most recorded pianist of all time, dispatches all these pieces with no-nonsense efficiency and muscular energy."

Repertoire, April 2000

"Un pianiste fort sérieux et méticuleux pour des oeuvres négligées: c'est parfait et, surtout, c'est un superbe moyen d'acquérir des oeuvres mineures sans trop bourse délier. Un bon choix."

"An extremely serious and meticulous pianist for neglected works: the recording is perfect and a superb means of acquiring minor works without great expense. A good choice."

Luca Sabbatini

Following a very successful first collection, here is Volume 2 of Beethoven's Bagatelles and Dances for piano. In other words: all the things you never would have expected from the composer of the monumental Ninth Symphony or the gigantic Hammerklavier Sonata. All but three of these sketchy miniatures--Contredanses, Ecossaises, Menuet, Bagatelle, Preludes, Fugue, etc.--are pre-1800 compositions, showing the path followed by Beethoven from apprenticeship to mastery. The most famous piece is the Fantasia Op. 77, which gives a hint of Beethoven's enormous skills as an improviser. It is nonetheless a rather patchy work that Jeno Jando's precise, joyful, and naturally paced performance manages to unify. Composed in 1795, the charming 12 German Dances WoO 13 give us the rare opportunity to hear Beethoven as foot-warmer for the Ladies and Gentlemen of Viennese high society. Schubert probably knew this music and was inspired by it while writing his own sets of dances. The transcription for piano solo of the 3rd Concerto's last movement coda is another worthwhile curiosity. The gem of this collection is perhaps the Bagatelle "Lustig-Traurig" (Joyous-Sad). Jando's simple, tasteful, and witty playing does it full justice, as equally the case with the rest of the CD. Although it's not the most essential program, it's a highly enjoyable one. The sound is as clear and lively as the performances.

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