6 багателей, Opus 126

Nr. 1. Andante con moto cantabile e compiacevole
Nr. 2. Allegro
Nr. 3. Andante cantabile e grazioso
Nr. 4. Presto
Nr. 5. Quasi Allegretto
Nr. 6. Presto - Andante amabile e con moto - Tempo l

Время создания: апрель-июнь 1824 года.

Anatol Ugorski, фортепиано

The summer of 1822 proved to be extremely difficult for Beethoven financially. The costs for the upkeep of his nephew and servants as well as his household were high. His health was bad, so doctors' costs and a forthcoming stay in a spa consumed additional amounts of money. On top of this he had old debts with the publisher Steiner, who now demanded their repayment including interest. Beethoven had also incurred debts with his friend Franz Brentano in Frankfurt, as he had paid him an advance for acting as an agent for the Missa solemnis (which was neither finished nor even sold), as well as with the publisher Artaria in Vienna. In desperation the composer turned to his brother Johann. Johann van Beethoven, the family?s "financial genius" who was wealthy and very skilled in business matters, came to Ludwig's aid. He gave him cash and obviously stood security for him with Steiner, so that in the end Beethoven owed Johann 500 florins. But Johann van Beethoven was not wealthy because he was a sentimental businessman. And he knew his brother and his promises. Unlike publishers and friends he did not heed Ludwig's assurances but instead demanded copyright for several of his works, including the Bagatelles which Beethoven wanted to sell to the publisher Peters and which were later to become op. 119. As a result the unavoidable occurred: the brothers argued and had it out through different publishers. Johann tried to sell the Bagatelles, Ludwig tried to prevent this as he thought his brother was cheating him. Schemes and plots abounded, supposed intrigues were uncovered and hatched anew. Ludwig won: via his former pupil Ferdinand Ries, who lived in London, he sold the Bagatelles op. 119 to an English publisher. Once published they no longer had any business value for Johann. He did not, however, give up. To compensate Johann for the lost money, Ludwig had to provide a replacement. As he did not have any money, he provided compensation in the form of a new cycle of six Bagatelles op. 126, which he composed in spring 1824. On 19 June 1824 he told his brother that they were ready for collection.


This is the last and probably finest of the three sets of Bagatelles Beethoven wrote. In general, the six works comprising the collection are not as light as those in the earlier sets and the three lone Bagatelles without opus numbers. That said, the opening piece in Op. 126 is decidedly pleasant and light. Marked Andante con moto, it is a mostly serene work whose joyous main theme exudes a sense of self-confidence. Textures lighten in the latter part of the work, as the music takes on an almost angelic glow, heralding the incandescent close of the composer's last piano sonata. The Bagatelle No. 2 in G minor contrasts with the opening work in both its livelier Allegro tempo and somewhat anxious mood. Still, the ambivalent main theme here never tilts toward the dark side in its mixture of the stormy and playful, of the anxious and the delicate. The Bagatelle No. 3 in E flat major, marked Andante, is tranquil in its serenity and grandeur, its theme noble and clearly looking toward the nascent Romantic movement. Does this work augur the mood, perhaps even the keyboard writing, in the middle movement of Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 1? The Bagatelle No. 4 in B minor is a Presto filled with angst in its driving rhythms and heroic, stormy main theme. An alternate melody in the upper register, also lively and energetic, exhibits a measure of calm and gracefulness, and on its second appearance closes out this anxious piece in a relatively subdued mood. The G major No. 5, marked Quasi Allegretto, provides stark contrast to the preceding Bagatelle in its serene, dreamy, and consistently gentle manner. While it offers few technical challenges to the pianist, it will present sufficient interpretive ones. The concluding Bagatelle in E flat major is marked Presto -- Andante amabile e con moto, and begins with a surge of swirling currents that quickly turn tame for the introduction of the dreamy main theme. The music gradually becomes more animated, prodded by elements from the opening, and the theme exhibits a deeper expressive manner in its mixture of heroism and serenity. The opening surge mischievously returns to close out this masterpiece.

(Robert Cummings, Rovi)