Why is this the disc to hear if you want to hear Beethoven's Bagatelles?
First, Philips' sound is magnificent, as clear and realistic a piano recording as has ever been made, a recording that puts the piano in the same room as the listener. Second, there are hardly any truly great performances of Beethoven's three sets of Bagatelles; the only uncontrovertibly great performances were recorded by Artur Schnabel in the '30s and their sound is unlistenable for most contemporary listeners. Third, and most importantly, Alfred Brendel's interpretations are every bit as great as Schnabel's and every bit as individualistic as Brendel's best interpretations. In Brendel's performances, each of Beethoven's quirky Bagatelles is wonderfully characterized and marvelously expressive. Fourth, the disc is filled out with four little pieces by Beethoven in superb performances, an elegant Rondo in C major, a powerful Allegretto in C minor, a delicious Klavierstuck in B flat major, and, of course, a simple and sublime Bagatelle "Für Elise."