Listening to Beethoven #204 – Minuet in E flat major WoO 82

Commemorative medal for Ludwig van Beethoven, 1927 – Bronze medal from the Hungarian Ministry of Culture based on a design by József Reményi

Minuet in E flat major WoO 82 for piano (1803, Beethoven aged 32)

Dedication not known
Duration 4′

Listen

written by Ben Hogwood

Background and Critical Reception

There is some doubt around when this piece was first written. In his notes for Ronald Brautigam’s BIS recording of the Minuet, Roeland Hazendonk notes how an early Beethoven scholar found an early edition of the piece seemingly dating from Beethoven’s time in Bonn in his early teens.

It was however published in 1805, and has proved to be a hit with students starting out on the piano. Hazendonk says this is due to its ‘full, orchestral sonority’.

Thoughts

This is a very easy-going dance, with a repetitive theme that becomes quite an earworm. It is a relatively slow tempo, almost Andante, with poise and a hint of humour. The middle section moves to A flat major, encouraging the pianist to take flight in the right hand a little more, before returning to the easy charm of the first theme.

A simple but enjoyable piece.

Recordings used and Spotify playlist

Ronald Brautigam (BIS)
Jenő Jandó (Naxos)
Gianluca Cascioli (Deutsche Grammophon)
Martino Tirimo (Hänssler)
Olli Mustonen (Decca)

Olli Mustonen plays this piece a little impishly, and is the fastest of the five interpretations considered here. Martino Tirimo is very slow, while in Ronald Brautigam’s hands the dance feels rather earthbound and foursquare.

You can chart the Arcana Beethoven playlist as it grows, with one recommended version of each piece we listen to. Catch up here!

Also written in 1803 Pleyel 3 Keyboard Trios, B.474–476

Next up Das Glück der Freundschaft Op.88

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