A Beethoven concerto with strings alone

A Beethoven concerto with strings alone


norman lebrecht

August 28, 2022

The French conductor Thibault Back has recorded an adaptation of the Beethoven 4ht piano concerto in a version by the 19th century German composer Vincenz Lachner for strings alone.

It’s…. interesting.

The soloist is the Taiwanese fortepianist Tzu-Yu Yang.


  • Sixtus Beckmesser says:

    I heard Robert Levin perform this work with a string quartet some years ago. It’s much more satisfying with the full orchestra.

  • Guest 2 says:

    Interesting idea, a pity that the strings cannot play better in unisono passages and that the fortepianist is hammering away using the same technique as if she was behind a Steinway…But bravo for the effort in trying something new in any case!

  • GUEST says:

    A similar effort, but of a reconstruction of Beethoven’s own arrangement (for which original parts exist but not the score), has been recorded for Steinway by the excellent American pianist David Deveau and the Borromeo string quartet with viola and bass additions. It received rave a review in Gramophone UK. It was recorded earlier by musicologist Robert Levin for Archiv.

  • J Barcelo says:

    These arrangements are fascinating. No doubt made it possible to hear music that otherwise you might not. I can image a whole concert of Beethoven like this. Add in that amazing chamber arrangement of the Eroica! In this concerto performance, the lack of string vibrato is really irritating.

  • Chicagorat says:

    That’s is how Muti and the CSO like to do it. A Beethoven with strings alone, I mean. And the sagging brass section, mirroring the maestro in all things, on stage just as eye candy. 😉

  • Ferrosissimo says:

    Very diligently played, keeping a metronomic tempo, arpeggiating in the most obvious places and bravely flattening dynamics and accentuation like is taught in most (non-German) schools.
    It sounds like a sight reading, with the orchestra being always late in the usual passages. Or am I missing something?

  • Scooter says:

    As a trumpeter watching this, I’m wondering if this how a trombonist feels.

  • Anniev says:

    Since transcriptions were ubiquitous during Beethoven’s time – and indeed he made them of his own works, usually for financial reasons – I don’t see a valid rejection to this in theory. I just don’t think it works musically. Particularly in the long harmonic sequences, when a tune is being repeated in a series of tonalities. The differing characteristic voices of the various wind instruments playing the tune (sometimes in dialogue with the strings) sharpen the changing harmonic colors. Without that timbral diversity, the sequences sound prosaic.

  • Enrique Sanchez says:

    I can just imagine the IMPACT that Beethoven’s known aggressive playing may have had on a Broadwood forte-piano by listening to this! This pianist possibly reflects that Beethovenian dynamism quite well, I think. I enjoyed it for it’s historical value since private performances with smaller ensembles were very common and this could well have been what audiences might have heard back then before one could download an mp3. We live in deeply rich and probably spoiled times as far as music performance is concerned.

  • Karl says:

    There are some things I just don’t want to hear. This is one of them.

  • Nurhan Arman says:

    At Sinfonia Toronto we use the chamber versions by brothers Vinzenz and Ignaz Lachner for Beethoven and Mozart concertos. They were fine composers. However the arrangements are for either string quartet or quintet and they need to be adapted for string orchestra use. I usually add more lines to the string sections to be played as divisi in order to bring more colours and depth. The third Lachner brother is Franz who was also a fine composer.

  • Vittorio Parisi says:

    Well done. But it is not a New thing. It is already been done here and there and recorded as well.

  • Piano Lover says:

    WIth the cost cuts in music we might see more and more of this junk.
    -May be a violin concerto by guitar
    -or double Brahms concerto for bag pipe (with no leading note if you don’t mind but who cares) and african drum.