In Beethoven’s 250th anniversary year, Naxos continue to explore the byways of his compositions with a seldom heard arrangement he made of the Second Symphony. It was published three years after the symphony’s premiere in 1802, and was intended for performance in those parts of Europe where there was no access to a symphony orchestra. Now offered as a Piano Trio, it was a total thought-through arrangement of the original instrumentation shared between the three musicians, and in this format it is a highly desirable score with a sparkling scherzo. I am less inclined towards the arrangement of the First Piano Concerto from Vinzenz Lachner, a composer in the generation after Beethoven. He offered two versions, one where the pianist plays the original piano part, and one which adds the piano to the original orchestral tutti passages. The version played here has the piano just in its solo role. The nimble fingers of the Dutch pianist, Hanna Shybayeva, are heard to very good effect, her first movement cadenza being particularly attractive. There appears to be more than one Animato Quartet in the world, this one seemingly to reside in the Netherlands where the recording was made earlier this year. Their performances are most pleasurable, the microphone placement in the ‘concerto’ favouring the double-base of Bas Vliegenthart.
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