These are all early works by Beethoven, coming at a time in his career when he was still forming his style and ideas. Nothing grandiose or truly innovative is in evidence here, but the writing is always skillful and the music delightful. The leadoff piece is the colorful and rather hilarious, Rage Over a Lost Penny. The nickname, Keith Anderson's notes tell us, may not be Beethoven's, but a devising of the unreliable Schindler. The composer had originally titled the piece 'In Hungarian Style, as a caprice', and may never have associated it with a humorous furor over a lost coin. That said, its music seems a perfect match for Schindler's added moniker. This is truly one of the most charming humorous piano works ever written, and Jandó turns in a spirited performance that misses none of the work's zany rambunctiousness, and none of its rich colors.
The Andante Favori is given another fine reading, Jandó deftly capturing the contrasts and similarities of the material, playing up the lightness of the lyrical main and secondary themes and then bringing out the playful and mischievous character of the brief middle section. He plays the three Rondos spiritedly, too, all with a light touch, knowing well that Beethoven had not yet developed the richer, often darker elements that gave his music a more muscular and heroic demeanor. The Twelve Minuets are the earliest works on this recording, dating to 1795. They are charming pieces that divulge a Mozartean flavor, though the sonic power in the openings of several of the Minuets may cause you to doubt the latter observation. Jandó renders them all with panache and grace, fully capturing their light beauties and moments of muscle.
Naxos lavishes Jandó with excellent sound here and Keith Anderson, as usual, provides informative notes. A thoroughly charming disc.
Copyright © 2002, Robert Cummings