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Beethoven, Mendelssohn & Weber
(Van Swieten Society, Bart van Oort, fortepiano)

Beethoven's Beethoven

Symphony no 2 in D major, op. 36 (Arranged for piano trio by Beethoven)
Quintet for Piano and winds in Eb major, op. 16 (Arranged for piano quartet by Beethoven)


Early Chamber Music of Felix Mendelsohn

Sextet for Piano and Strings in D Major, op. 110 (1824)
Clarinet Sonata in Eb Major (1824)
Piano Trio in C minor (1821)

Carl Maria von Weber: Romantic Chamber Music

Clarinet Quintet in Bb major, J. 182
Invitation to the Dance (piano solo version)
Flute Trio in g min, op. 63, J. 259

Van Swieten Society
Bart van Oort, fortepiano
Franc Polman and Igor Ruhadze, violin
Bernadette Verhagen, Viola
Job ter Haar, cello
Frank van den Brink, clarinet
Tomoki Sumiya, bas

Quintone Records: 2007, 2008 & 2009, Lutheran Church, Deventer & Hervormde Kerk, Rhoon, The Netherlands.
Recording Peter Arts, Arts Music Recording

A key contributor to Malcolm Bilson's ground-breaking Complete Beethoven Sonatas on Fortepiano, it has been a privilege to follow Bart van Oort's traversal of some byways of the chamber music repertoire, all presented with care and flare.

We have come a long way since a decade ago when Andras Schiff famously put it to a Wigmore Hall audience "we have been brainwashed into taking for granted that pianos should always be black and made by Steinway", but the London concert halls don't yet have in-house period pianos and fortepianos.

The recording industry has, however, embraced the new orthodoxy and, in our house, we now listen to piano music on appropriate instruments whenever possible - indeed almost exclusively - and the growing repertoire of high-quality fortepiano recordings will be the enduring marker of 2010. Bart van Oort is a fine exponent of his instrument, and this set demonstrates its suitability - indeed often its preferred suitability - for chamber music of the perios covered here.

The Beethoven wind quintet, in this version made for home chamber music playing*, comes up, to my ears, fresher than "the orginal". Such arrangements, one might say, the 18th-19th C equivalent to the distribution of recordings in later times and our own. Performances in concerts were rare, and composers took trouble to make their new works available to an avid domestic market, needing to do so quickly because there was no copyright protection; if composers didn't make their own arrangements, others would quickly do so, less competently and without correct attributions.

Some of these are superb, virtual re-compositions, executed with every care and musicianly skill. A particular gem in this collecton is the Beethoven piano quartet, by no means to be dismissed as a mere "arrangements". Bart van Oort's 8-page essay Arrangments: Music for Music's Sake is obligatory reading and will change your feeling about the whole interesting issue.

Van Oort's colleagues are masters of their various authentic instruments, and the strings have a gorgeous tone in ensemble. Mendelssohn's Sextet (which we loved in a DVD from Verbier with the lovely Yu Wang) comes up even better with this group; hear the andante of his Clarinet sonata on a free download - van der Brink is a superb clarinettist. In the Weber disc, the Flute Trio is a gem.

The presentation is scrupulous and the supporting essays are not to be missed; the graphic design deserves a mention too!

Recommended to seek out.

Peter Grahame Woolf

* Domestic music making continues to have an international following; see an astonishing English initiative
with world-wide success at Articles - Merton Music