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Nigel Harris
MusicWeb International, September 2020

The bulk of the performances are given by an expert smallish choir, Cantus Novus Wien, under its music director since 2001, Thomas Holmes. Some nine other items feature vocal soloists or the SATB a cappella Ensemble Tamaliel; and instruments appear five times. The entertaining miniature “Bester Magistrat, Ihr friert” (‘Dear Magistrate, you’re freezing’) has a cello making appropriate shivering sounds…

…Anyone who buys the disc will find it entertaining, interesting, and instructive in an unusual way about Beethoven’s life and music. Hence I welcome it warmly. © 2020 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Guy Engels
Pizzicato, August 2020

It’s almost unbelievable that a busy composer like Beethoven could find the time to write such artful, entertaining miniatures, some of which we are now hearing in first recordings?

Obviously, he did not always need the great form to create impressive works. At over two minutes, the setting of Goethe’s poem ‘Edel sei der Mensch…’ is the longest composition on this CD. Beethoven got along perfectly in the short choral movements, and the two ensembles Tamanial and Cantus Novus Wien are doing their best to promote the composer’s image. © 2020 Pizzicato Read complete review

Records International, August 2020

One of the least explored areas of Beethoven’s compositions is the miscellaneous sequence of canons, early exercises in counterpoint, mature jokes and jeux d’esprit that he wrote over many years. He composed a two-part canon for the composer Hummel in 1816 and in 1823 one for four voices (written in a tavern) for Count Lichnowsky. He also wrote birthday and Christmas greetings for colleagues and friends, and songs that punned on recipients’ names or poked fun at them. From Graf, Graf, liebster Graf, WoO 101 to Ars long, vita brevis, WoO 170, there are 56 little pieces here totaling 55 minutes. Scads of vocal and instrumental performers. © 2020 Records International

David Denton
David's Review Corner, July 2020

As the record labels search high and low to add something new in celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday, Naxos offer fifty-six tracks of his long forgotten music.

They were vocal trifles, some lasting but a few seconds, written by the composer to amuse himself and those who received his pieces of manuscript paper. Mostly to his own texts, they were usually for groups of singers, many used as gifts or as jokes, such as the first track which is rather cruel and pokes fun at his first violin teacher. Others are more beautiful, the words ‘Art is long, life short’ penned by Beethoven for the composer and friend, Johann Hummel. Most are performed by the recently formed Viennese Chamber Choir, Cantus Novus Wien. With around 40 members, it is a nicely balanced group under the direction of Thomas Holmes. Miniatures, but delightful, such as the Happy New Year that delightfully heralded 1820 for the Countess Erdody, one of Beethoven’s closest confidants. And so we proceed through these musical snippets, some rude, some charming, but little of deep import save for the most extended track—at just over two minutes—that uses words by Gothe, Noble is man, helpful and good , yes good. Two very brief Canons for four violins makes for a curious ending to the disc. The sound quality, balance and ambiance is unfussy, while the booklet, with English translations, is sufficiently informative. The inquisitive among us will not be disappointed by the content. © 2020 David’s Review Corner

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