Not trifles, for these Bagatelles, kleine klavierstücke, are by Beethoven and treated as piano royalty by Paul Lewis, with affection, and insight as to any profundity contained within these seemingly innocent short forms.
There are twenty-four in total divided into three collections, Opuses 33, 119 & 126, music of variety, full of appetising invention – charming, brusque, poetic, witty (none funnier than Opus 119/10, all ten seconds of it!), imbued with song and dance – and also with substance, especially Opus 126, six gems, whether the rollicking/droning Fourth or the slower numbers (I, III, V and, following its opening Presto flourish, the final one) that touch the heart with their expressive eloquence.
Lewis, consistently very well recorded at the Teldex Studio Berlin over three years, most recently March (just before Lockdown), brings relish and suaveness to each piece – a twinkle in the eye and sensitivity, as required – and then adds five encores, including a beautifully turned Für Elise (a stand-alone WoO Bagatelle) and ending with the Opus 77 G-major Fantasia, in context a huge and dramatic nine minutes, to complete a winning release. Harmonia Mundi HMM 902416.