Review By James Harrington,American Record Guide,September 2011
This is an outstanding release and one that might easily be overlooked. While I am not generally a period instrument person, I do appreciate hearing works performed on an excellent instrument appropriate for the period where they were written. Here we have not one, but two fascinating fortepianos: Caspar Katholnig, Vienna, circa 1805-10 and Johann Tröndlin, Leipzig, 1830. Both have been expertly maintained and preserved by the Frederick Historic Piano Collection in Ashburnham, Massachusetts. All works except the Three Marches and the Great Fugue are performed on the Katholnig, reserving the Tröndlin for the two largest works. The dynamic range coaxed out of both instruments is a testament to the abilities of Bryant and Rachmanov, who should also be commended for their
It would be easy to label this entire release rarities. Of the five significant compositions by Beethoven, which account for more than half the total time, only one, the Grosse Fuge, has come my way for review in the past several years. The Variations on ‘Ich denke dein’ are listed as a world premiere recording. Beethoven notated the theme for soprano and piano four-hands. The Magic Flute pieces are quite enjoyable and the only thing I have ever heard by an early teacher of Beethoven, Christian Gottlob Neefe. Perhaps the most entertaining piece here is the Haydn Divertmento. Based on the familiar Harmonious Blacksmith theme, this two-movement work is a set of variations and a minuet. The variations, as the subtitle ‘Il Maestro e lo Scolare’ implies, exploits the master and student relationship. Never was there a master and student who could so accurately imitate each other as the two pianists here.
Whether you are an expert in the field of period instruments or just curious about their sound, you owe it to yourself to make this recording a part of your collection. The repertoire, performers, booklet notes, and recorded sound are all superb; and I plan to keep this one on my active listening stack for the foreseeable future.