5 de Diapason -
4 étoiles Classica
This Warner Classics release is billed as music by Beethoven, but most of it fits only partly under that rubric. Les Vents Français experienced well-deserved success for their French-heavy programs on recordings and in concert, and it is understandable that they would like to branch out with Beethoven. But in so doing, they get into pretty obscure territory. The Trio in C major, Op. 87, despite its high opus number, is an early work, like all the other genuine pieces on the album, composed in 1795. Originally for two oboes and English horn, it is transcribed here for oboe, clarinet, and bassoon by John P. Newhill, who wrote a book on the basset-horn. The most interesting of the bunch is the Trio in G major for piano, flute, and bassoon, WoO 37, one of the not-abundant works by the teenage Beethoven in Bonn. With its sizable first movement, virtuoso piano part, and vigorous interchange among the instruments, it points toward the mature Beethoven more than the later, but essentially incidental, works on the rest of the album. The Variations on Là ci darem la mano, WoO 28, are also a transcription (by Fritz Stein), while the Duo in B flat for clarinet and bassoon, WoO 27, No. 3, is thought to be spurious and is full of infelicitous voice-leading, unlikely from the student of Albrechtsberger and Haydn. The Horn Sonata in F major, Op. 17, is genuine Beethoven, tossed off in a day, but intelligently written for the French horn. What keeps the miscellany afloat is the playing of Les Vents Français, which once again is surpassingly elegant, a model of Classical-style wind playing. They get a strong assist from Bavarian Radio engineers, working in the Bavarian Musikstudios in Munich. Recommended for Beethoven enthusiasts.