Beethoven: Piano Music Volume 1

Alfred Brendel (piano)

Turnabout – TV 34251DS (year unknown)

It's been a very lengthy break in my increasingly inaccurately named Vinyl Album "of the Week" project. This was because my record player was misbehaving and so eventually I took it back to Richer Sounds in Southampton, who couldn't have been more accommodating or helpful. We listened to it in the store and they claimed to be able to hear some sort of distortion in the left hand channel as well. If I am honest, it was barely audible in that environment, which makes me think it's probably something in my home setup, sadly. They still sent it off to the manufacturer for checking and eventually got it back to me with a clean bill of health. Or, to put it another way, with no changes, since they couldn't find anything wrong.

Anyway, I got it back about a month ago and picked this album out, at random, for the next in the series. Unfortunately, it probably wasn't a great choice. Each of the several pieces on this album is a variation on a different theme by another composer. They feel a bit like academic studies, exercises for students or just a demonstration of the different ways a single theme can be changed, reharmonized or turned upside-down. I'm sure it's very sophisticated - this is Beethoven, after all - but it all goes completely over my head. As pieces of music, they seem meandering and aimless. The only bits I can remember are some particularly dissonant chords during the "Eroica Variations" (aka "15 Variations & Fugue On A Theme From ''Prometheus'' In E Flat Major, Op. 35" - catchy title!) that caught my ear because they stick out so much.

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