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Beethoven 250th Anniversary

How Complete Was My Beethoven?
Three 2020 "Complete" Boxes Vie for Your Attention
By Mark Zimmer

The New Beethoven Complete Edition, Deutsche Grammophon 483 6767 (numbered limited edition of 6500 copies). 118 CDs, 3 Blu-ray Audio discs, 2 Blu-ray Video discs

Beethoven Complete Edition, Naxos 8.500250, 90 CDs.

Beethoven Complete Works, Warner Classical 539882, 80 CDs.

Physical aspects
How complete is complete?
Symphonies
Concertos
Music for the Stage
Keyboard works
Chamber works
Lieder, canons and musical jokes
Choral Music
Folksong arrangements
Summary
Exclusive to DG
Exclusive to Naxos
Exclusive to Warner
Rarities common to DG and Naxos
Rarities common to Naxos and Warner
Rarities common to DG and Warner
Rarities common to all three boxes
Hidden (unindexed) items
All three sets missing

In preparation for Beethoven's 250th birthday in December 2020, Deutsche Grammophon, Naxos and Warner Music have released new mega boxes of Beethoven's music, each of which purports to represent his "complete" works. In this article, I will review the accuracy of that claim and the respective merits of these boxes. These three offerings appeal to somewhat different segments of the market. Obviously, acquisition of a “complete” box assumes a certain level of commitment to Ludwig van Beethoven and his music, and probably more than a casual acquaintance with it. They're all directed at those who are familiar with the basics, but want more. In fact, they want it all.


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The largest and most expensive of the three is the lavish package from Deutsche Grammophon. As part of the Universal family, DG is able to draw on Decca and other labels that are now under the Universal umbrella, which out of the gate permits inclusion of some of the most notable Beethoven recordings of all time. But DG also hasn't been shy about licensing oddball pieces from other labels. In the tradition of the recent Mozart 225 and Bach 333 boxes, DG has opted for a kaleidoscopic view of Beethoven. There are several complete cycles by a single artist or group: Karajan's 1960s set of the symphonies , Kempff's stereo recordings of the piano sonatas , the Amadeus Quartet's complete string quartets, all on Blu-ray audio for highest quality, plus Gardiner's period approach to the symphonies. But beyond that, DG refuses to be locked in. They provide multiples of great recordings of the best-known works. And appropriately enough for this approach, there's not just one or two recordings of the Fifth Symphony, there are seven. The CD versions of the piano sonatas and quartets are also on a pick-and-choose basis, with multiple artists contributing, rather than just one artist's view of an entire genre. This New Complete Beethoven Edition builds substantially on the skeleton of DG's 1997 Complete Beethoven Edition, but amplifies it greatly, at least in the area of the instrumental music. It's a beautiful package that like its Bach and Mozart predecessors is a statement piece that aims to give a well-rounded picture of the composer.

 

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By far the most complete of the three sets is Naxos' box, which dives deep into the catalogue of obscure Beethoven pieces and variants. Naxos' trademark of less-well-known artists but still first-class performances and recordings is carried over here. Heavily dependent on recordings of eastern European and Scandinavian performers, the box still offers excellent quality. While Naxos includes material from its longtime mainstays like Jenö Jandó, there is also a multitude of new recordings that have not yet been released on single volumes, but which apparently will eventually be forthcoming, based on the catalogue numbers assigned to these CDs. Of particular note are the numerous and uniformly excellent recordings by Leif Segerstam and the Turku (Finland) Philharmonic, though their cycle of the symphonies is not part of this box.

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The smallest and most economical of the boxes comes from Warner Music. Not only does Warner offer some of the biggest names in classical music (Perlman, Harnoncourt, Barenboim, du Pré, etc.), but an enormous amount of the material is newly recorded expressly for this box. With far fewer CDs of content, it's of course the least complete of the three sets, eschewing variants, fragments, and the like that to my mind form some of the most fascinating parts of the Naxos box. In essence, it's similar to the DG box, but on a much slimmer and trimmer, and accordingly much less expensive, basis.

PHYSICAL ASPECTS

The DG set is in an imposingly large box with a fragile slipcover. The box is quite heavy indeed, in no small part due to the fact that it alone has substantial paper documentation along with its 123 discs. Not only is there a sizable, copiously illustrated 264-page hardcover book (roughly the size of two CDs), but DG includes a smaller CD-sized paperback book for each of the nine genres that the box is broken into. The large book includes an index of the recordings across the entire set, while each of the smaller books has detailed information about the works and recording dates. DG’s is the only one of the three packages to offer texts for the vocal works, including the opera Fidelio and its earlier version, Leonore. Each of the discs is in a cardboard envelope; when you assemble the covers for the nine genres they form the famous Joseph Karl Stieler portrait of Beethoven that is prominently featured on the cover. The box (apart from the perforated slipcover, which I found frankly to be a stress-inducing annoyance) is quite gorgeously put together, and it feels like you have an incredibly high quality product in your hands even before you spin a single disc. Unfortunately, while Bach 333 included a short version of the forthcoming BWV3 catalogue, and Mozart 225 included a short Köchel catalogue, there is no corresponding short version of the Kinsky-Halm catalogue of Beethoven's works with WoO numbers (discussed below).

Naxos unsurprisingly takes a more utilitarian approach, with a hinged box cover revealing the 90 CDs and a 135-page booklet that includes details about the recordings on each CD and a short biographical sketch of Beethoven. While some texts for vocal works are available on Naxos' website, unfortunately the lieder are not among them. The CDs are housed in cardboard sleeves that are color-coded by genre, but otherwise fairly generic. Oddly, there is no index of works in the booklet, although Naxos has assured me that will be coming on their minisite devoted to the box in the future. It's a bit difficult to find anything in particular in the box without that, though the color-coding does give a bit of assistance.

Warner's box (also in a somewhat fragile slipcover), like the others, takes the color-coded cardboard sleeve approach, but features a different period painting (many by Caspar David Friedrich) as artwork for each disc that breaks up the monotony nicely. The slim booklet offers very little beyond a cursory biography and an index of works, but it does include a handy concordance of items that have had their Kinsky-Halm catalogue numbers reassigned, plus a quite unusual offering: a list of certain compositions not included, with the reason why they were omitted, which gives an interesting glimpse into the curation behind this set.

HOW COMPLETE IS COMPLETE?

I've been pursuing recordings of Beethoven compositions for nearly 40 years now, and for the last 20 years have been Project Director of The Unheard Beethoven, a website devoted to making heard unrecorded and unpublished Beethoven works, so my view of what constitutes the "Complete Works" of Beethoven is quite expansive. I’ll note here that The Unheard Beethoven provided both DG and Naxos with musical scores of previously-unpublished Beethoven works for inclusion in their sets, in the interest of making as many works available on disc as possible.

Before we can discuss how complete each of the boxes is in their approach to Beethoven, we first need to summarize the various catalogues that identify each of these works. These boxes make use of all five of these numbering systems.

  • Opus numbers. These are the numbers assigned by Beethoven and his publishers, most often to works Beethoven considered his most significant, but not necessarily the most famous ones today. Even the familiar Für Elise did not manage to get an opus number, and indeed was not even published during Beethoven's lifetime. These opus numbers run up to 138, and generally are roughly chronological. There are notable exceptions, however, such as the Octet op.103, which was one of the very early works of Beethoven composed in Bonn that was only published decades later.
  • Kinsky-Halm (WoO numbers). In the 1950s, Georg Kinsky and Hans Halm developed their catalogue of Beethoven's works, both with opus numbers and without them. Those without were assigned Werke ohne Opuszahl or WoO numbers. Their catalogue of WoO numbers originally went up to 205. The Bonn Beethovenhaus recently undertook a major update of the Kinsky-Halm catalogue, which was published in 2014. For the most part, the same WoO numbers were retained as in the first edition, even when certain works were determined not to be by Beethoven at all (e.g. WoO 12 and WoO 16). However, the numbering of his Italian part-songs (WoO 99) and many folksong arrangements (WoO 152 through 158) were completely reworked to be more sensible than the seemingly random arrangement of these works in the first edition. In addition, two groups of works were added to the catalogue: complete works bringing the tally of WoO numbers up to WoO 228, and a new classification for unfinished (unvollendete ) works, which are given a Unv number, numbering up to 23.
  • Hess catalogue (Hess numbers). Willy Hess, also working in the 1950s, attempted to catalogue Beethoven's works that had not been published in the Gesamtausgabe (Complete Edition) by Breitkopf & Härtel in the late 19th century. His catalogue went through several early versions that today are entirely ignored, and only the final version of the catalogue, with numbers up to 335, is in ordinary use. Many works have both WoO and Hess numbers, and some have only one or the other. Hess' catalogue was translated into English and the text updated by James F. Green in 2003, but Green left Hess' numbering entirely intact and did not add any additional entries to the catalogue.
  • Biamonti catalogue (Biamonti numbers). In 1968, Giovanni Biamonti, an Italian professor of music,issued Catalogo cronologico e tematico di tutte le opere di Beethoven , a chronological catalogue of all of Beethoven's works that he could find, whether completed or not, building on Kinsky-Halm and Hess. Although not in common use generally, Biamonti's catalogue is the most complete single listing of Beethoven's works, running up to 849 items. There have, however, been a number of additional discoveries since its completion.
  • Gardi catalogue (Gardi numbers). These are works that have no other number, which were either unknown or escaped Prof. Biamonti's attention, and have accordingly been assigned numbers by The Unheard Beethoven project in order to deal with these works in a systematic manner. Some of these compositions have since been assigned WoO or Unv numbers in the second edition of Kinsky-Halm.

Naxos and Warner in their boxes both use the revised WoO numbering as found in the second edition of Kinsky-Halm; DG for some reason elected to stay with the old WoO numbering, making comparisons, especially of the folksong arrangements, difficult at times.

Warner Classical takes a fairly straightforward approach to "completeness." In their estimation, if it's in Kinsky-Halm, and it's complete, it's in their box. If not, it's almost always out, though there are a handful of works with Hess numbers only that still made the cut. Fragmentary works that require completion are almost never included. A notable exception is the fragment of an early Violin Concerto in C, WoO 5, which slips into the box. Everything genuine that's in Kinsky-Halm's catalogue makes an appearance with the exception of the dubious piano trio op.63 and the equally dubious cello sonata op.64 (both of them arrangements of Beethoven works, but almost certainly by another hand). Warner does allow for op.41 and 42, the Serenade for Flute and Nocturne for Viola, both of which are arrangements of Beethoven works by F.X. Kleinheinz, but were corrected and approved by Beethoven. The same might be said for op.63 and 64, since Beethoven didn't object to them being assigned opus numbers either. But works that are in variant versions only appear in Warner's set once; for example the ballet Creatures of Prometheus op.43 is here in its orchestral form, but Beethoven's piano arrangement of the ballet, Hess 90, is nowhere to be seen.

DG's box does take a more expansive route, with many items from the Hess catalogue being included. DG is justly proud of three CDs packed with Hess-listed rarities that have seldom been heard before, performed by notables such as Lang Lang, Ronald Brautigam and the Endellion String Quartet. One of the most significant areas where DG blazes a new trail is the inclusion of some of the fugues written by Beethoven in his studies with Albrechtsberger in 1794-95, Hess 238 through 245. These little pieces are important for understanding Beethoven's lifelong obsession with fugal composition that would culminate in the Grosse Fuge op.133 thirty years later. While not including all of these student pieces (almost certainly a bridge too far in a box for general audiences), there is a healthy sampling here that helps cautiously bring these unknown works out into the limelight.

And then there is Naxos. They took the word "complete" quite literally. There are an amazing number of works recorded for the first time here (not all of them listed as such), with well over a hundred pieces that appear in neither of the other two boxes. Variants? Yes please. Piano arrangements by Beethoven of orchestral works, all here. Early versions of songs that were revised? Dozens of them. Sketches and fragments? Many. While both Warner and DG tend to avoid the Biamonti catalogue, Naxos embraces it joyously. Beethoven's first published composition, 9 Variations on a March by Dressler was published in 1782; all three boxes include that version of the piece, but Naxos alone includes the 1803 revision that Beethoven made to it. Few things are too trivial for inclusion in Naxos' set.

Yet DG still manages to have over 20 pieces not included in the Naxos set, and even Warner has a handful of items exclusive to it. A full rundown of the items exclusive to each set is set forth at the end of this article. A serious collector of everything Beethoven will probably want to acquire both the DG and Naxos sets for their respective rarities. The more sane audience may be satisfied with Warner's approach.

Each of the boxes is divided by genre, so let us see what these companies have to offer in each one.

SYMPHONIES

Beethoven is probably best known for his nine symphonies, and all three boxes put them front and center in their boxes. But DG goes the extra mile, and then just keeps running. Their offerings are almost to the point of absurdity of riches. As mentioned above, there are the Karajan 1960s cycle and Gardiner's cycle, but DG continues on and on for a grand total of 45 symphony performances on CD, plus two more on DVD, not to mention three movements from the very early days of recording. The latter include Nikisch's 1913 recording of the Fifth Symphony, though only the first movement is included here whereas the 1997 Complete Beethoven Edition offered the entire symphony. The full recordings include some of DG's crown jewels, among them Carlos Kleiber's classic renditions of the Fifth and Seventh Symphonies. Among others making contributions are Riccardo Chailly and the Gewandhausorchester, Claudio Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic, Carlo Maria Giulini and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, as well as Andris Nelsons, Pierre Monteux, Karl Böhm and Leonard Bernstein, among others, conducting the Vienna Philharmonic. All of these well-regarded performances are offered in the usual DG solid sound, and provide a wonderfully multifaceted presentation of the symphonies in a variety of styles. There's very little to be unhappy about here.

Naxos represents with their Béla Drahos 1990s recordings of the symphonies. Drahos is never less than acceptable and frequently quite good. I preferred his rendition of the lighter symphonies, and found his Eroica a bit insubstantial. His Fifth, however, has all the weight and brisk fury you could want. I quite enjoy his Ninth, although the tenor in the march section is a trifle overwrought. The playing is quite crisp and clean throughout. Anyone who is buying a complete Beethoven box no doubt has at least one set of the symphonies, but Drahos is a worthy complement.

Warner offers for its symphony cycle Nikolaus Harnoncourt with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe . These live recordings have a good energy to them, though if you were expecting Harnoncourt to break new ground with Beethoven in the same way that he did with Bach, you'd be pretty disappointed. These are pretty standard-issue performances for the most part. Harnoncourt does, however, provide a vigorous Toscanini-like Eroica. His Pastoral is less successful, with the first movement trudging in at over 13 minutes. After listening to brisk outings like Chailly's, this is downright soporific. The first movement of Harnoncourt's Ninth suitably conveys a nervous energy bubbling beneath the surface. Unfortunately the vocalists in the finale are rather poorly miked and difficult to hear at times. The dynamic range on these recordings is excellent and quite noteworthy.

While only a tiny handful of conductors observe all of Beethoven's repeats in the symphonies, it's worth noting that each of these sets includes a cycle that does just that. Gardiner, Drahos and Harnoncourt are each of them exceptions to that rule, and for that the curators of these boxes are to be commended. All three of these conductors also take the controversial repeat in the Scherzo of the Fifth Symphony, making it a five-part movement rather than a three-part one.

None of the three boxes includes Hess 1, the alternate ending to the first movement of the Eighth Symphony. Also excluded is the alternate ending to the Scene by the Brook from the Sixth Symphony, which Beethoven intended to replace the familiar ending as he prepared to send the score to the publisher, but then at the last minute changed his mind back and reinstated the original ending. Perhaps by 2027 for the 200th anniversary of Beethoven's death someone will see fit to commit these versions to a recording. Barry Cooper's realization of the first movement of the Tenth Symphony from Beethoven's sketches, Biamonti 838, also is nowhere to be found.

CONCERTOS

DG similarly offers multiple versions of the concerti: Robert Levin on period fortepianos, and luminaries such as Ronald Brautigam, Martha Argerich, Rudolf Buchbinder, Friedrich Gulda and Alfred Brendel on modern pianos. Anne-Sophie Mutter's classic traversal of the Violin Concerto with Karajan (with her stirring Kreisler cadenza) is accompanied by a more current rendition by Vadim Repin backed by Riccardo Muti . CD 20 is notable for including two performances of the seldom-recorded cadenza Biamonti 506/1 (the second of them misidentified as the still-unrecorded cadenza Hess 76). Other than Levin, who performs his own cadenzas, the performers here all use Beethoven's own cadenzas for the piano concertos. Each of these is a welcome addition to any collection.

Stefan Vladar, accompanied by Barry Wordsworth and the Capella Istropolitana renders the piano concertos for Naxos. These 1980s recordings still hold up quite well, with Vladar varying his touch for each concerto; the Second Concerto has a light classical feeling, while the Fourth is firmly in the heroic style. The clarity of the recordings is excellent, with plenty of detail in the sound. Takako Nishizaki's performance of the Violin Concerto varies between a sweet Heifetz-like sound and a raw earnestness that's quite captivating.

Warner more than holds its own in this category, with András Schiff's excellent performances of the piano concertos with Bernard Haitink and the Staatskapelle Dresden front and center. Itzhak Perlman's performance of the Violin Concerto with Giulini is infectiously joyous and one of the highlights of the more commonly heard pieces in the Warner box.

All three boxes include the oddities of the piano concerto version of the Violin Concerto (commonly referred to as op.61a), and on the DG and Warner boxes the performers (Barenboim and François-René Duchâble, respectively) perform all four of Beethoven's cadenzas. Jenö Jandó on Naxos omits the first brief one for the Rondo, Hess 84, but includes the other three. Similarly, the early violin concerto fragment in C, WoO 5, is part of all three boxes, even though Warner generally has a policy of excluding fragmentary works.

However, none of the boxes includes either the score fragment for the beginning of the 1815 Piano Concerto in D, Hess 15, or one of the various completions of that movement that circulate. Nor are the various realizations of the extant continuity draft of the second movement of Beethoven's lost Oboe Concerto, Hess 12, acknowledged by any of these sets. The abandoned 1815 beginning of a second Triple Concerto WoO Unv 5 is also nowhere to be found.

MUSIC FOR THE STAGE

First and foremost amongst Beethoven's stage works is Fidelio, op.72 (1814), and its two earlier versions from 1805 and 1806, Hess 109 and 110, both entitled Leonore. Fidelio is well represented. On CD, DG offers Claudio Abbado's 2010 live Lucerne Festival conducting the Vienna State Opera and a cast including René Kollo, Gundula Janowitz and Lucia Popp. In addition, DG includes another disc of great performances from over half a dozen Fidelios. Michael Halász conducts the Nicolaus Esterházy Orchestra in Naxos' Fidelio with Kurt Moll as Rocco. Warner's entry is the great performance conducted by Klemperer and starring Christa Ludwig , Jon Vickers and Gottlob Frick.

For the 1805 Leonore, both Naxos and Warner rely on Herbert Blomstedt's 1970s recording for Eterna . While it's a fine performance, the Introduction to Act II (WoO 2b) was only identified as such after Blomstedt did his recording. Thus to have the correct 1805 version you need to insert that piece (contained elsewhere in these sets) into its proper place and omit the March (which is from the 1806 Leonore) that opens Blomstedt's second act.

None of the three boxes includes the 1806 version of Leonore, nor do they include the brief "Dresden recitative" for Don Fernando catalogued as Hess 114. DG tries to split the difference by using John Eliot Gardiner's version of Leonore, which is a weird amalgam of the 1805 version, the 1806 version, and the 1814 Fidelio that is unsatisfying from any perspective. The booklet accompanying it does include a useful and quite thorough breakdown of what Gardiner uses from which version, which can be helpful in trying to track the sources but ultimately that task is more work that it's worth.

Both Naxos and DG include recordings of the fragment Beethoven wrote for a projected opera, Vestas Feuer, Hess 115; Warner excludes it on grounds of being fragmentary.

All three boxes include the complete incidental music for Goethe's play Egmont, op.84. Naxos goes one better and amongst the lieder includes three early versions of Klärchen's song from Egmont, Freudvoll un leidvoll, that are nowhere to be found in the other boxes. The incidental music for The Ruins of Athens, op.113, was repurposed by Beethoven with different lyrics and a different order for The Consecration of the House, op.124. DG and Warner both take the easy and space-saving route of including a recording of The Ruins of Athens, and then has the differing tracks and a do-it-yourself instruction for reprogramming the CD in order to allow one to get the op.124 version with a bit of effort. Naxos takes the more straightforward route of simply providing two different recordings of these two similar, but still different, works.

During Beethoven's first years in Vienna, he regularly contributed sets of dances (minuets, Ländler, contredanses, German dances and the like) to the Viennese New Year's festivities. These typically were published in versions for orchestra, as well as reductions for piano and for two violins and a bass. Not all of these survive however. Where there are multiple versions, DG and Warner typically opt only for one, preferring the orchestral and chamber versions when they exist. Naxos, on the other hand, includes nearly all of the variants. In particular, Naxos has the piano versions catalogued as Hess 100, 101, and 102 that the other two boxes disregard. Warner ignores its policy against reconstructions to include an orchestral realization of the six minuets WoO 9.

Beethoven also wrote a number of marches and ecossaises for various wind bands. While each of the boxes includes at least one version of each of them, there are two marches that are problematic: the March in F WoO 18 and the March in F WoO 19. These marches exist in three different versions: two from 1810 and a revised version from 1822. The 1810 versions are ones that include so-called "Turkish elements" (cymbals, triangle, etc.) and a piccolo, and also the ones published in the Gesamtausgabe that omit these elements and replace the piccolo with flutes. In 1822 Beethoven revisited these two marches in their "Turkish" versions, and inserted a Trio in each of them.

Weirdly, although the Gesamtausgabe publication was the standard version of these marches for a century, those versions are omitted from all three boxes. This is an intriguing bit of historical revisionism since the Gesamtausgabe versions are entirely authentic compositions from Beethoven, but seem to have been consigned to the memory hole in favor of the alternate versions. Warner settles for the 1822 versions of these two marches, while Naxos is the most complete with both the 1810 "Turkish" versions and the 1822 revisions. DG also includes the 1822 version of WoO 19, but takes an entirely puzzling detour for its WoO 18: rather than using the perfectly acceptable Gesamtausgabe version they have in their catalogue, played by the Berlin Philharmonic winds under Hans-Priem Bergrath, DG instead opted to include an unauthorized arrangement of WoO 18 by another composer, the so-called Yorck'sher Marsch. Granted, it's performed by Karajan, but it's still inauthentic.

KEYBOARD WORKS

Beethoven first made his name in Vienna as a piano virtuoso, and his piano compositions are some of the greatest in the literature. Each of the boxes pays significant attention to the keyboard works of the Master, with DG again going for multiple presentations of the most important pieces. In addition to Kempff's sonata cycle on Blu-ray audio, DG takes a mix and match approach, with Pollini, Gilels, Arrau, Brendel, Ashkenazy, Freire, Kovacevich, Gulda, Kissin, Perahia and others making contributions. DG also dips deep into the rarity area with Tobias Koch performing fugues from Beethoven's studies with Albrechtsberger. One of the most important of these is the fugue on dona nobis pacem, Hess Anh.57 (which is now believed to be genuine Beethoven), in a piano arrangement by Julia Ronge of the Bonn Beethovenhaus.

Many of the little pieces recorded for DG's 1997 Complete Beethoven Edition by Mikhail Pletnev and Gianluca Cascioli make an encore appearance here. Several items so off the charts that they don't even merit catalogue numbers are presented here as well, and the new piano additions to the Kinsky-Halm catalogue get good coverage. The pieces for flötenuhr are played by Simon Preston on organ, as are the Fugue in D WoO 31 and the preludes through all the major keys, op.39. While the last of these were described by Beethoven as "for piano or organ," the long-held bass notes make it obvious they were really designed to be played on an organ, so bonus points there. Also on the flexibility front, the 6 Variations on a Swiss Song, WoO 64 are not only performed on the piano but also on the harp, exactly as Beethoven called for. DG is the only box to observe that option.

Naxos' set includes Jenö Jandó's traversal of the piano sonatas, while the piano variations are covered by Ian Yungwook Yoo, Sergio Gallo, Larry Weng, Carl Petersson and Konstantin Scherbakov. Naxos takes an inclusive and scholarly approach, exemplified by the smaller piano pieces catalogued only by Hess and Biamonti. There's an amazing array of bagatelles, short pieces, sketches and even fragments from the darkest nether regions of the Biamonti catalogue. Piano versions of pieces more familiar in orchestral form are present here as well, including Warren Lee's performance of the piano arrangement of The Creatures of Prometheus, Hess 90 . This is a very deep dive into lesser-known Beethoven that really helps Naxos more than earn the "Complete" banner. While a few pieces are marked as world premieres, Naxos does not take enough credit for the many other pieces in this category that are recorded here for the first time.

Stephen Kovacevich's excellent second (1990s) set of the piano sonatas headlines the Warner box. The variations are split up amongst Rudolf Buchbinder, Cyprien Katsaris and others. This box doesn't get very adventurous at all in the piano genre. Although the five pieces for flötenuhr WoO 33 are played on organ by Hans-Ola Ericsson, even the Fugue in D WoO 31 that is expressly denominated as being for organ is rendered on the piano. Most of the new piano additions to Kinsky-Halm are found here. The Warner set is the only one to have WoO 51, two pieces for orphica (sometimes referred to as a sonatina), performed on the proper instrument, a portable piano that was popular at the end of the 18th century.

The piano sonata draft, Unv 12, Biamonti 213, nicely exemplifies the attitude each box has towards completeness of the piano works of Beethoven. This draft, a precursor to the Pastoral sonata op.28, consists of three connected movements, the first of which is essentially complete, the second is mostly complete but with a few missing harmonies, and a third that quickly degenerates into a continuity draft that can be completed without much difficulty. Naxos embraces the piece completely, including a full performance of the entire sonata by Sergio Gallo, with the third movement in its skeletal form as it appears in the Kafka Miscellany. DG includes the first movement only, and Warner rejects the piece entirely as "fragmentary." Your comfort level with considering this sonata draft as part of Beethoven's "complete works" will help point you to which box is the right one for you.

CHAMBER WORKS

Although Beethoven may be most famous for his symphonic and piano works, his chamber output is actually even larger than his work in both those genres. In addition to the standard works, each of the boxes has rare items of interest.

DG has exclusive to it two particularly interesting variants of well-known pieces. The violin version of the clarinet trio, op.11, is present in the Beaux Arts Trio's delightful rendition. Robert Levin also performs the very rarely heard piano with string quintet version of the Fourth Piano Concerto. The piece translates quite well, especially in Levin's rendition using a fortepiano that helps keep the proper balance. One of the delights of the rarities section of the DG box is a reconstruction of the beginning of the String Quintet in C, WoO 62, which was the last substantial piece that Beethoven worked on before he died. To my knowledge this is the first recording of that fragment in string form, although it has appeared in piano reduction before. DG and Naxos both include the cello version of the Horn Sonata op.17, which has a quite different character. On the counterpoint exercise front, some of the marvelous renditions of Beethoven's fugue studies with Albrechtsberger (Hess 238, 243, and 244) are presented here by the Covington String Quartet. The earlier limited release of these pieces on Monument Records is now becoming difficult to find, so their inclusion by license here is very welcome.

Before getting into the Naxos chamber rarities, I want to touch on a different kind of highlight. I was delighted to discover the Kodály Quartet's set of the string quartets in the Naxos box. Their renditions are full of verve and excitement, giving a new perspective on these old favorites. The Kodály set has rocketed to the top of my list of recommended performances of these works. But there are plenty of rarities here for the listener. The cello sonata op.64, is an arrangement of the String Trio op.3. This sonata is of dubious authenticity (but Beethoven allowed it to bear that opus number, suggesting some kind of approval) but is given a solid and vibrant performance by Maria Kliegel as part of her set of the integral cello sonatas. Also unique to Naxos is an intriguing early version of the first movement of the quartet op.131, performed by the Fine Arts Quartet. Speaking of early version variants, Naxos also includes an early version of the Finale to the String Trio op.3 (Hess 25), the first version of the Prelude in E minor Hess 29, and the first version of the quartet op.18/1 (Hess 32). Beethoven released the latter to friends, only to recall it afterwards saying he had not yet learned to write quartets, but it certainly sounds like fine work to me. DG also includes that early version in its set.

Speaking of Hess 29, while all of the boxes include the Preludes and Fugues Hess 30 and 31, Hess 29 is unaccountably missing from the Warner box, without explanation. More serious is a shocking omission from the Warner box. As is well known, the quartet op.130 originally had the Grosse Fuge as its Finale. Beethoven was prevailed upon that the Great Fugue was too much and that it should be replaced by a smaller-scale movement more in keeping with the rest of the work. The Grosse Fuge was eventually released separately as op.133. While Warner includes the original version of op.130 with the Grosse Fuge as the Finale as performed by the Artemis String Quartet , the replacement Finale is nowhere to be found in Warner's box. This omission is consistent with the Complete String Quartets box by the Artemis Quartet released by Warner. Whether this is some kind of oversight or some obscure philosophical statement on the Artemis Quartet's part is unclear, but in a "Complete" box of this kind its complete absence is quite unforgivable.

As noted above, Warner is the only set to include the Viola Nocturne op.42. Warner and Naxos both include the clarinet trio version of the op.38 arrangement of the Septet, which I frankly prefer to the slightly-more-frequently-heard piano trio version. While both Naxos and Warner include the dubious Three Duos for Clarinet and Bassoon, WoO 27, they use the same recording of a modern arrangement for flute and bassoon instead of the proper clarinet version. I suppose if one is playing a dubious group of pieces, absolute fidelity is not necessarily the uppermost thought. But it still seems odd.

All three sets include the alternative Second Trio to the Scherzo from the String Trio op.9/1 (Hess 28), though Warner fails to mark its track 6 on CD 46 as such. Similarly, despite its fragmentary status, the striking string quintet fragment in D minor, WoO Unv 7, Hess 40, is also present in all three boxes.

LIEDER, CANONS AND MUSICAL JOKES

Approximately one-fourth of Beethoven's output is vocal music. His lieder are often disdained, but there are some beautiful melodies here, and his op.98 An die ferne Geliebte is usually considered the first true song cycle. Some of these songs come in multiple variants: An die Geliebte WoO 140 has no fewer than four different versions, plus one can be performed on guitar as well as piano, though as of yet no one has ventured to record that one.

DG has taken the easy way out here; the vocal works are, other than a brand new recording of the Six Lieder op.75, repeated in virtually identical form to that in their 1997 Complete Beethoven Edition. That new recording of op.75 does have the merit of including the alternate version of op.75/5, An den fernen Geliebten, and DG also retains the old recording of the standard version of that song. Since many of these were classic 1960s recordings by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, DG's reuse of them isn't a terrible thing since the performances are of high quality. But Fischer-Dieskau does have an annoying habit of omitting verses of the strophic songs, on some occasions, such as Der Jüngling in der Fremde, WoO 138, and Der Bardengeist, WoO 142, only performing a third or a quarter of the entire song. The following are the songs in DG's presentation that suffer from this defect (with the correct number of verses in parentheses):

  • WoO 110 Elegie auf den Tod eines Pudels (4). Verses 1 and 4 only.
  • WoO 116 Que le temps me dure in C minor (3). Verses 1 and 3 only.
  • WoO 116 Que le temps me dure in C major (3). Verse 1 only.
  • WoO 117 Der freie Mann (7). Verses 1, 2 and 6.
  • WoO 121 Abschiedsgesang an Wiens Bürger (6). Verses 1, 3 and 5.
  • WoO 122 Kriegslied der Österreicher (4). Verses 2 and 3 only.
  • WoO 138 Der Juengling in der Fremde (6). Verses 1 and 5 only.
  • WoO 142 Der Bardengeist (8). Verses 1 and 3 only.
  • WoO 147 Ruf vom Berge (6). Verses 1-3, 5 and 6.
  • WoO 148 So oder so (6). Verses 1, 3 and 6.

Naxos adds complete versions of WoO 110, 116 in C minor, 122 and 147 in its box, but not the others. Warner only distinguishes itself from DG with a complete version of WoO 116 in C minor. Although there have been complete recordings by other artists of most of these lieder, the C major version of WoO 116 setting all three of Rousseau's verses still has not to my knowledge ever been recorded.

Naxos does, however, present multiple alternative versions of many of Beethoven's lieder. There are early versions of seven different songs, amongst them the four different versions of WoO 140. As a plus, there are realizations of three incomplete lieder. Erlkönig, WoO 131, from Goethe's poem, is exceedingly similar to Schubert's version of the song right down to the key, but predates that song by a generation. Traute Henriette, Hess 151, is a charming little piece that makes a welcome addition to the catalogue. The third is the recently-discovered song Liebe, Hess 137 ("Ich wiege dich in meinem Arm"), lost since 1822. However, Naxos questionably uses a female vocalist for the latter, even though the text (complete with a pre-Freudian banana joke) makes it clear that it's being sung by an ardent man to his lover.

Warner's lieder are a combination of brand new recordings, 1960s recordings from East Germany, and Fischer-Dieskau's 1980s traversal of the songs. By and large these are solid performances but like his recordings for DG they suffer from the same unfortunate tendency toward incompleteness of the strophic songs.

All three sets include versions of the Italian Part-songs that Beethoven wrote in the mid 1790s as a student of Antonio Salieri, of Amadeus fame. These unaccompanied songs are quite lovely, and they exist in multiple versions, both as written by Beethoven and as corrected by Salieri, and in the case of the settings of the poem Fra tutte le pene, separate versions for duet, trio and quartet. Unfortunately, not all of these songs survive complete. Of the 29 versions known to have been written by Beethoven, only 25 are still extant. Naxos thoughtfully includes all 25 of them. Warner includes 24 of the 25, missing only the solo version of Salvo tu voui lo sposo, WoO 99/12a. Not only is DG's rendition missing four of the part-songs, it misidentifies track 9 of CD 85 as Hess 225 (the uncorrected version of the terzet version of Fra tutte le pene), when it is actually Hess 209 (the corrected version).

Beethoven loved puns and jokes, and he frequently wrote little canons or musical jokes poking fun at his friends and associates. The rotund violinist Ignaz Schuppanzigh was often the butt of these jokes, being referred to variously as a Lump and Falstaff. All three boxes are fairly complete in their inclusiveness of these little pieces, though eight of them are exclusive to Naxos. Warner includes the spurious canon Ta ta ta ta lieber Mälzel, which is generally believed to be a forgery by Beethoven's one-time assistant and first biographer Anton Schindler. All three boxes inexplicably are missing the four canons that were added in the second edition of Kinsky-Halm, WoO 223 through 226. Alas, none of the sets includes the delightful early musical joke Der arme Componist (The Poor Composer), Biamonti 15, in which Beethoven humorously expresses frustration over his inability to come up with ideas other than the thoughts of a donkey, echoed in the canon Esel aller Esel, WoO 227, written many years later (included in all of the boxes). Similarly, none of the brief Musical Greetings, WoO 205 and 228, are contained in these boxes.

CHORAL MUSIC

Although Beethoven's choral music repertoire is not extensive, it does include some of his greatest works. All of the sets cover this area quite well. DG includes Christian Thielemann's solid recordings of the early Bonn cantatas on Emperor Joseph's death and the accession of Leopold II, WoO 87 and 88 respectively. Beethoven's lone oratorio, Christ on the Mount of Olives, op.85, is present in Bernhard Klee's rendition that features James King as a somewhat whiny Jesus. The oddball and rarely-heard cantata Der glorreiche Augenblick, op.136, glorifying the princes at the 1815 Congress of Vienna, is here in Myung-Whun Chung's suitably pompous version. John Eliot Gardiner's 1989 recordings of the Mass in C, op.86, and the Missa Solemnis, op.123, are accompanied by Karajan's 1966 Missa Solemnis that features the phenomenal quartet of Janowitz, Ludwig, Wunderlich and Walter Berry. Karajan's Missa includes one of the most gorgeous renderings of the Benedictus ever committed to tape and that recording belongs in every collection. Gardiner's period recordings give a very different weight to the orchestra against the vocal forces, and provide a fascinating comparison of just how varied interpretations of Beethoven can be.

The masses are a bit of a weak link in the Naxos box. The Missa Solemnis is a rather bland reading by Kenneth Schermerhorn and the Nashville Symphony that especially pales next to the titanic recordings in the other two boxes. The Mass in C under Segerstam fares much better, with a particularly wonderful Agnus Dei that captures both reverence and drama. Segerstam also supplies the Naxos Christ on the Mount of Olives oratorio in a version high in impact. Both Naxos and Warner use Hilary Davan Wetton's comparatively light and charming reading of Der glorreiche Augenblick that helps make Beethoven's fawning over the assorted royals a bit more tolerable. In addition to the major works, Naxos includes a few exclusive rarities, such as the 1822 version of Opferlied, op.121b, for three voices, choir and orchestra; all three boxes have the 1824 version of the piece for solo soprano, choir and orchestra. Similarly, while all of the boxes have the Bundeslied, op.122, for chorus and orchestra, only Naxos includes the variant for chorus and piano, Hess 92. The short canon for chorus, Ich bin bereit! - Amen, WoO 201, is found only in the Naxos box. Both Naxos and DG include the WoO 202 version of the canon Das Schöne zum Guten dating from 1823, but all three boxes include the 1825 version, WoO 203.

Not to be outdone, Warner features Klemperer's vivid 1965 recording of the Missa Solemnis that is second to none for emotional impact. That's paired with Giulini's 1970 evocative and thoughtful recording of the Mass in C with the New Philharmonia Orchestra. Volker Wangenheim's recording that same year of Christ on the Mount of Olives features Nicolai Gedda as Jesus. Of the three Christs under consideration, Gedda best captures the doubt, torment and finally resignation that the part calls for. Warner, like DG, uses Thielemann's WoO 88 cantata, but mysteriously opts for a much-less-intense recording of its companion WoO 87 by Jean-Paul Penin and the Krakow Philharmonic. Hochzeitslied, WoO 105, written by Beethoven for the occasion of the wedding of a friend's daughter, comes in two varieties: the first version, Hess 125, in C major for solo voice and a unison chorus; and the second version, Hess 124, in A major for solo voice and a four-part chorus. While the Hess 125 version is the one typically recorded and is found in all three boxes, Naxos and Warner also include recordings of the four-part choral version, Hess 124, which to my tastes is the more interesting of the two.

FOLKSONG ARRANGEMENTS

No part of Beethoven's "Complete Works" are dismissed as regularly as the arrangements of folksongs for voices and piano trio accompaniment that he did for Scottish publisher George Thomson beginning in 1810 and continuing for the next decade. These amply fill out seven CDs, and, as was the case with the lieder, there are sometimes multiple versions of these songs. The reason for this is that Thomson regularly rejected Beethoven's settings, complaining that they were too difficult for the young ladies playing these songs in their parlors, his principal market. Beethoven would usually comply, providing alternative settings though they were not always in fact easier. Although these were piece-work, Beethoven seemed to enjoy the process and unlike Haydn, Weber and others who did these arrangements for Thomson, he employs significant inventiveness and provides interesting and appropriate settings on almost every occasion.

There are three basic ways of presenting these folksongs, most of which are in English. One is to use musicians familiar with the folk idiom, such as the pioneering 1950s recordings of some of these arrangements by Richard Dyer-Bennet, or more recently the absolutely wonderful disc Wisps in the Dell from Makaris (Olde Focus Recordings FCR916), which to my mind was one of the very best releases of 2019. In the middle one finds English-speaking performers who sometimes seem to think themselves too good for folk music, and try to pretend these are operatic arias. At the far extreme are the German recordings (some from the 1970s) that are still floating around, which not only treat these as operatic, but contain thick German pronunciation and betray a blatant failure to understand the texts.

Alas, none of the boxes wholly take the first approach. The best are Warner's all-new recordings of the folksong arrangements which come close, with some terrific performances that are unfortunately spoiled by baritone Jean-François Rouchon, who persistently treats these humble little pieces as if he's on the stage of La Scala, with an enormous and wholly inappropriate vibrato.

DG's rendition of the folksongs is once again carried over wholesale from the 1997 set, which were then-new recordings that replaced the quite unsatisfactory ones by German vocalists on their 1970s Beethoven Edition LPs. These are generally quite good as well, with native English speakers singing but occasionally treating these pieces too seriously. At their best the DG folksong arrangements are excellent, but there is an unevenness of quality here.

Naxos expediently licenses most of their folksong arrangements from Brilliant Classics, which is not in itself shameful but many of these performances fall into the overly-Germanic category, and are often difficult to listen to. On the positive side, Naxos also includes a number of brand new recordings of the many variant versions of the folksongs that Brilliant did not include in its box. Most of these alternative versions are world premiere recordings (again, often unmarked as such), catalogued as Hess 178 and 191 through 206. Naxos and Warner include the Air français, Hess 168 (WoO 158/25), but DG unaccountably omits it as it did back in 1997.

None of the sets include any of the forty-five variants that provide the option of a flute part rather than violin. Some of these are quite different than the violin versions, but to date none of them have ever been recorded. This is another missed opportunity.

SUMMARY

None of the three new "Complete Beethovens" is really complete to my mind; that's probably an impossible goal given the large number of variants that still remain unrecorded. But we've come a very long way from the "complete" recorded works as they were presented in 1997, and miles beyond what DG and Eterna were offering in the 1970s on LP.

Between the DG box and the Naxos set, one gets a very complete view of the composer's works, missing only a handful of items, most prominently the 1806 version of Leonore. That's the route I'd recommend for the truly obsessive who want everything by Beethoven. Warner does not add much to that mix, at least from a completeness standpoint. While it nevertheless contains many outstanding performances, I can't in good conscience urge you to acquire all three boxes.

Most people will only want to acquire one box, and which one provides the right level of completeness for you will depend on your goals and attitudes:

Are you looking for a scholarly and expansive view of completeness, chockablock with fragments and sketches? Then Naxos is your clear choice. The Brilliant Classics Beethoven Edition in its various iterations has taken a similar approach, but I don't believe that there's anything in that box that's not in Naxos' version, and Naxos includes quite a lot more. To my mind, Naxos' box supersedes Brilliant's box completely while still falling in the same general price point.

If you aren't interested in fragments, sketches and variants, but would like a very broad approach to Beethoven's works, then Deutsche Grammophon's lush presentation is for you.

If you're a casual Beethoven fan on a budget, Warner's similar but more limited and far less expensive box should suit you.

I look forward to seeing how "Complete" the Beethoven boxes released for the bicentennial of the composer's death in 2027 will be. Until then, these boxes will contain many, many hours if not days of delights for Beethoven fans.

Following are breakdowns of which pieces are exclusive to each of the boxes. Many thanks are due to John Fowler for his collaboration in assembling these lists, which originally appeared in slightly different form at The Unheard Beethoven.

EXCLUSIVE TO DG:

op.11: Piano trio in B flat, version for violin in place of clarinet [DG 63]

op.58: Piano quintet version of Piano Concerto #4 [DG 118]

op.75/5: First version of An den fernen Geliebten [DG 88]

op.107: Variationen über 10 Volksweisen No.1,3,4,6,7,9 for Violin and Piano [DG 100]

WoO 15: 6 Ländler for orchestra [DG 25]

WoO 18: Arrangement by Schade of March in F as Yorck’scher Marsch, Hess Anh.2 [DG 25]

WoO 62b: Andante maestoso in C major Letzter musikalischer Gedanke reconstructed for String Quintet [DG disc 100]

WoO 64: Harp version of 6 Variations on a Swiss Song [DG 51]

WoO 133: In questa tomba oscura, 2nd version, arranged for voice and orchestra A. Faris [DG 113]

Note that the piece listed as Hess 76 Cadenza for Piano Concerto #1 [DG 20] is misidentified; it is not Hess 76, but the incomplete cadenza Biamonti 506/1. The same cadenza also appears in the first track of DG 20, in the performance of Concerto #1 by Rudolf Buchbinder.

Hess 236: Five of the 20 surviving Two-Voice Fugues, for Piano [DG 101]; at least 29 were written but the balance are lost today

Hess 237: Four of the 7 Three-Voice Fugues, for Piano [DG 101]

Hess 238: Six of the 8 Four-voice Fugues, for String Quartet [DG 101]

Hess 239: No.2,3 of the Three Chorale Fugues, for Piano [DG 101]

Hess 243: Five Double Fugues, for String Quartet [DG 101]

Hess 244: Two Triple Fugues, for String Quartet [DG 101]

Hess 331b: Minuet in B-Flat Major for String Quartet – fragment [DG 100]

Hess 332: Pastorella for String Quartet – fragment [DG 100]

Hess 333: Menuetto – Scherzo for String Quartet – fragment [DG 100]

Hess 334: Allegro in A Major for String Quartet [DG 100]

Hess Anh.57: Dona nobis pacem – Fugue for Four Voices arr. Piano by Julia Ronge [DG 99]

Biamonti 506/1: Incomplete first cadenza to Piano Concerto #1, first movement [DG 20, appears twice on this disc, once with Buchbinder's full performance and again on Arrau's excerpt, the latter misidentified as Hess 76]

Uncatalogued pieces:

Kafka folio 47v, staves 11-16: Allegretto in A minor/major for Piano [DG 99]. This is a longer version of piece 47v staves 13-16 found on Naxos 34

Kullak folio 51/52: Piano piece in F Minor [DG 99]

EXCLUSIVE TO NAXOS:

op.48/3: song Vom Tode (first version, 1798-99) [Naxos 88]

op.64: Cello sonata arrangement of string trio op.3 [Naxos 36]

op.75/4: First version of Gretels Warnung [Naxos 88]

op.113: The Ruins of Athens, version with narration (1811) [Naxos 72]

op.121b: Opferlied, 1822 version for 3 voices, choir and orchestra [Naxos 76] All three boxes have the 1824 version for solo voice, choir and orchestra [DG 93, Naxos 76, Warner 68]

op.131: Early version of 1st movement of String quartet #14 in C sharp minor [Naxos 54]

WoO 2a Piano version of Triumphal March from Tarpeja (spurious) [Naxos 33]

WoO 15: 6 Ländler for piano [Naxos 15]

WoO 18: Original (1810) version of March #1 F, with cymbals and triangle but no Trio, Hess 6 [Naxos 59]

WoO 19: Original (1810) version of March #2 F, with cymbals and triangle but no Trio, Hess 8 [Naxos 59]

WoO 23: Ecossaise in G for Piano [Naxos 17]

WoO 63: Revised (1803) version of 9 Variations on a March by Dressler [Naxos 29]. The last variation is the most heavily revised. All three boxes include the original 1782 version, which was Beethoven’s first published composition [DG 47, Naxos 29, Warner 28]

WoO 99/12a: Solo voice version of Salvo tu voui lo sposo, no separate Hess # [Naxos 90] Only Naxos contains all 25 of the surviving Italian Part-songs WoO 99, on CD 90.

WoO 113: First version of Klage [Naxos 88]

WoO 126: Opferlied, sketch for voice and piano (1796) [Naxos disc 88]

WoO 131: Erlkönig, completed by Reinhold Becker [Naxos 88]

WoO 133: First (1806) version of In questa tomba oscura [Naxos 88]

WoO 135: First version of Die laute Klage [Naxos 88]

WoO 140: Draft version and first version of An die Geliebte [both Naxos 87]

WoO 158/19 (Gardi 25): folksong setting Una paloma blanca (first version) [Naxos 84]

WoO 160: Two canons [Naxos 63]

WoO 178: Signor Abate! for choir and piano (c. 1820) [Naxos 90]

WoO 181/2: Canon Gehabt euch wohl

WoO 181/3: Canon Tugend ist kein leerer Name

WoO 201: Ich bin bereit! Amen for choir (after 1818) [Naxos 90]

WoO 204: Holz, Holz, geigt die Quartette so (by Karl Holz) [Naxos 90]

WoO 222: Canon in A flat Hess 275/328 [Naxos 34]

Hess 25: Finale. Allegro early version of String trio op.3 VI [Naxos 46]

Hess 29: First version of Prelude in E minor [Naxos 63]

Hess 60: Sketch in A major for Piano (1818) [Naxos 32]

Hess 63: Arrangement of Kaplied, by C.F.D. Schubart [Naxos 34]

Hess 65: Concert Finale in C (arrangement of the Coda to Piano Concerto #3 III) [Naxos 11]

Hess 66: Allegretto in C minor, 2nd version of WoO 53 [Naxos 34]

Hess 87: March in B flat WoO 29 arr for piano (original and revised versions) [Naxos 34]

Hess 89: Ritterballett for piano [Naxos 33]

Hess 90: Creatures of Prometheus for piano [Naxos 33]

Hess 91: Opferlied, 2nd setting for voice, choir and piano [Naxos 88]

Hess 92: Bundeslied, op.122:for chorus and piano [Naxos 77]

Hess 93: Freudvoll und leidvoll, elaborated version with prelude [Naxos 88]

Hess 93: Freudvoll und leidvoll, elaborated version without prelude [Naxos 88]

Hess 94: Freudvoll und leidvoll, for voice and piano [Naxos 88]

Hess 98: Scherzo from Piano Trio op.1/2, arranged for Piano, completed by C. Petersson [Naxos 32]

Hess 99: March in F arranged for piano [Naxos 33]

Hess 100: 10 German Dances for piano arrangement of WoO 8 [Naxos 15]

Hess 101: 12 Minuets for piano, arrangement of WoO 7 [Naxos 17]

Hess 102: Piano version of 7 dances from Contredanses WoO 14 [Naxos 16]

Hess 118: Invisible chorus for Consecration of the House, Folge dem mächtigen Ruf der Ehre! [Naxos 72] Music is the same as a piece in Ruins of Athens, but different lyrics.

Hess 137: Liebe (Ich wiege dich in meinem Arm/ Ich Schwinge dich in meinem Dom) [Naxos 88]

Hess 140: 2 alternate versions of Dimmi, ben mio, che m’ami, op.82/1 [Naxos 88]

Hess 141: Alternate version of Busslied, op.48/6 [Naxos 88]

Hess 142: 1st version of Wonne der Wehmut, op.83/1 [Naxos 88]

Hess 144: 1st version of Feuerfarb, op.52/2 [Naxos 88]

Hess 145: Sketch of 1st setting of Opferlied, WoO 126 [Naxos 88]

Hess 146: 1st version of Der Freie Mann [Naxos 77]

Hess 151: Traute Henriette [Naxos 88]

Hess 178: Duet version of Sunshine (‘Tis Sunshine at Last) WoO 153/44 [Naxos 84]

Hess 191: The Vale of Clwyd, 1st version of WoO 155/19 [Naxos 84]

Hess 194: I dream’d I lay, 1st version of WoO 153/30 [Naxos 79]

Hess 195: When far from the home, alternate version of WoO 153/40 [Naxos 84]

Hess 196: I’ll praise the saints, 1st version of WoO 153/41 [Naxos 84]

Hess 197: ‘Tis but in vain, 1st version of WoO 153/15 [Naxos 84]

Hess 198: Oh! Would I were 1st version of WoO 153/48 [Naxos 84]

Hess 200: The Maid of Isla 1st version op.108/4 [Naxos 84]

Hess 200: The Maid of Isla 2nd version op.108/4 [Naxos 84]

Hess 201: Bonnie Laddie, Highland Laddie, 1st version of op.108/7 with original violin part [Naxos 84]

Hess 201: Bonnie Laddie, Highland Laddie, 2nd version of op.108/7 with revised violin part [Naxos 84]

Hess 202: Oh! Thou art the lad of my heart, Willie 1st version of op.108/11 [Naxos 84]

Hess 203: Faithfu’ Johnie, 1st version of op.108/20 [Naxos 84]

Hess 204: O let the night my blushes hide discarded version of WoO 155/7 [Naxos 84]

Hess 205: The Dream, 1st version of WoO 155/14 [Naxos 84]

Hess 206: To the Blackbird, 1st version of WoO 155/20 [Naxos 84]

Hess 229: Languisco e moro, version for solo voice and piano [Naxos 90]. Duet version on Naxos 90 and Warner 80.

Hess 274: Canon in G actually by Johann Mattheson, from Der vollkommene Kapellmeister III/15 [Naxos 34]

Hess 297: Adagio in F for 3 horns [Naxos 60]

Hess 324: Melody in C minor for piano [Naxos 34]

Hess 324: Melody in C minor for piano reconstructed by A.W. Holsbergen [Naxos 34]

Hess 325: Piano piece in D [Naxos 34]

Hess 330: March in C minor for Piano (1804) [Naxos 32]

Hess 330: March in C minor for piano reconstructed by A.W. Holsbergen [Naxos 32]

Hess 331a: Minuet in B flat major for Piano (1799) [Naxos 17]

Biamonti 48: Anglaise for piano in G minor (original and revised versions) [Naxos 34]

Biamonti 69: 3 Little Sketches in Canonic Style for Piano [Naxos 32]

Biamonti 96: 18 Sketches for Piano [Naxos 32]

Biamonti 98: Sketch for Piano Sonata in E-flat [Naxos 32]

Biamonti 99: Sketches for Allegretto for piano [Naxos 32]

Biamonti 191: Intermezzo for Sonata in C minor, possible sketches for Piano Sonata No.5 or No.8 (1798-99) [Naxos 32]

Biamonti 268: Fragment in A major producing effect of Horns, for piano, both original and reconstruction by A.W. Holsbergen (1793) [Naxos 32]

Biamonti 269: Andante molto in E-flat [Naxos 34]

Biamonti 270: Andante fragment in F for Piano [Naxos 32]

Biamonti 271: Fragment in E-flat for Piano [Naxos 32]

Biamonti 272: Andante in B flat major for Piano (1793) [Naxos 32]

Biamonti 273: Sketch in F major for Piano (1793) [Naxos 32]

Biamonti 276: Sketches in C major and G major for Piano (c.1800) [Naxos 32]

Biamonti 277: Presto in G for Piano [Naxos 34]

Biamonti 279: Allegro in C for Piano [Naxos 34]

Biamonti 280: Passage in B for piano, performing version C. Petersson [Naxos 32]

Biamonti 317: Sketch for Piano in E-flat [Naxos 32]

Biamonti 318: Sketch for Piano Sonata in A minor (1802) [Naxos 32]

Biamonti 319: Unused Sketches for Finale to Eroica Variations, for Piano [Naxos 32]

Biamonti 345: Fuga Tema in C [Naxos 34]

Biamonti 346: Fuga Antique in C [Naxos 34]

Biamonti 622: Pastorella in C major for Piano (1815) [Naxos 34]

Biamonti 637: Piano Trio in F minor (1816) [Naxos 42]

Biamonti 720: Fragment for Piano in G [Naxos 32]

Biamonti 849: Instrumental sketch for piano [Naxos 32]

Uncatalogued pieces:

Fischhof folio 53v 11-14: Allegretto in G for Piano [Naxos 34]

Kafka folio 39r 1-4: Minuet in D for Piano: [Naxos 16]

Gardi 10: Minuet in D minor for Piano [Naxos 17]

EXCLUSIVE TO WARNER:

op.42: Nocturne for viola and piano (arrangement by F.X. Kleinheinz, approved and corrected by Beethoven) [Warner 40]

op.88: Der Glück der Freundschaft, sung in German [Warner 73] The Italian version, Vita felice, appears on DG 82 and Naxos 86.

WoO 9: 6 Minuets, reconstructed for orchestra [Warner 16]

WoO 51: Two pieces for orphica, a portable piano-like instrument popular in the 1790s; only Warner includes a performance on the orphica rather than piano [Warner 27]

WoO 162: Canon Ta, ta, ta, ta, lieber Mälzel (spurious) [Warner 80]

RARITIES COMMON TO DG AND NAXOS:

op.17: Cello version of the Horn Sonata [DG 59, Naxos 37]

WoO 9: Six Minuets, version for violins and bass [DG 67, Naxos 59]

WoO 10: Six Minuets, version for piano [DG 46, Naxos 15]

WoO 59b: Bagatelle in A minor Für Elise for Piano (second version, 1822) [DG disc 99 or Naxos disc 14]

WoO 62a: Andante maestoso in C Letzter musikalischer Gedanke for Piano [DG 99 or Naxos 32]

WoO 138: Lied aus der Ferne, first version [DG 83, Naxos 88]

WoO 140: An die Geliebte, second version for voice and piano 1811 [DG 84, 116; Naxos 87]

WoO 152/25a O harp of Erin, second version [DG 89, Naxos 78]

WoO 202: Das Schöne zum Guten [DG 85, Naxos 90]

WoO 207: Romance cantabile, Hess 13 [DG 19, Naxos 10]

WoO 209: Minuet in A Flat Major with Trio in A Minor for piano [DG 99, Naxos 32]

WoO Anh.5, No.1: Sonatina in G Major for Piano [DG 101 or Naxos 34]

WoO Anh.5, No.2: Sonatina in F Major for Piano [DG 101 or Naxos 34]

WoO Unv 7, Hess 46: Violin Sonata in A Major – fragment [DG 100 or Naxos 64]

WoO Unv 8: Duo for Violin and Cello in E-Flat Major – fragment [DG 100 or Naxos 60] (Gardi 2)

WoO Unv 12, Biamonti 213: Piano Sonata quasi una Fantasia in D major for Piano [DG 99, Naxos 34]

Hess 29: Prelude and Fugue in E minor (final version) [DG 37, Naxos 63]

Hess 32: String Quartet in F, first version of op. 18/1 [DG 77, Naxos 54]

Hess 36: String Quartet arrangement of the fugue from the Overture to Handel’s Solomon [DG 100 or Naxos 54]

Hess 38: String quintet arrangement of JS Bach Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, fugue #22 in B flat minor BWV 867 [DG 79, Naxos 63]

Hess 57: Bagatelle in C Major for Piano [DG 99 or Naxos 14]

Hess 70: Adagio ma non molto in G Major – fragment for Piano [DG 99 or Naxos 34]

Hess 71: Molto Adagio in G Major – fragment for Piano [DG 99 or Naxos 34]

Hess 72: Theme and Variation in A Major for Piano [DG 99 or Naxos 32]

Hess 96: Symphony No. 7 – arr. for piano [DG 99 or Naxos 32]

Hess 97: Wellingtons Sieg oder die Schlacht bei Vittoria – arr. for piano [DG 99 or Naxos 34]

Hess 107: Grenadiersmarsch for flötenuhr arr WoO 29 March in B flat [DG 51, Naxos 32]

Hess 115: Vestas Feuer (fragment of projected opera) [DG 31, Naxos 71]

Hess 245: Fugue in D minor for string quartet fragment appears on both [DG 101 and Naxos 63]

Biamonti 425: Symphony #2 in D op.36, version for piano trio [DG 118, Naxos 41]

Uncatalogued pieces:

Kafka folio 41v, staves 13-16: Piano Piece in A major [DG disc 99 or Naxos 34]

Kafka folio 47v, staves 5-8: Piano piece in C major [DG 99, Naxos 34] Naxos misidentifies this piece as Kafka f.119v staves 2-5.

Kafka folio 160r staves 1-6: Piano Piece in A major [DG 99 or Naxos 34]

RARITIES COMMON TO NAXOS AND WARNER:

op.38: Clarinet Trio version of Piano Trio arrangement of Septet op.20 [Naxos 42, Warner 44]

op.41: Serenade for flute in D, arrangement of Serenade op.25 [Naxos 64, Warner 38]

WoO 10: 6 Minuets, reconstructed for orchestra [Naxos 8, Warner 16]

WoO 17: 11 Mödlinger Dances (doubtful) [Naxos 7, Warner 16]

WoO 18: March in F, 1822 version with Trio, Hess 7 [Naxos 59, Warner 11]

WoO 27: 3 Duets [Naxos 60 and Warner 57, but performed on flute and bassoon instead of clarinet and bassoon. The same recording appears on both sets]

WoO 99/3: E pur fra le tempeste, tenor solo Hess 232 [Naxos 90, Warner 80]

WoO 099/11a: corrected version of duet Fra tutte le pene Hess 208/2 [Naxos 90, Warner 80]

WoO 099/11b: uncorrected version of terzet Fra tutte le pene, Hess 225 [Naxos 90, Warner 80] Track 9 of DG CD 85 is actually Hess 209, not Hess 225 as it is mislabeled.

WoO 105: Hochzeitslied, version for four-part choir Hess 125 [Naxos 87, Warner 69] All three boxes contain the version for unison choir Hess 124 [DG 105, Naxos 87, Warner 69]

WoO 158/25: Air français, Hess 168 [Naxos 82, Warner 79]

WoO 171: Glück fehl’ dir vor allem; by Michael Haydn MH 582 [Naxos 90, Warner 80]

WoO 181/1: Canon Gedenket heute an Baden! [Naxos 90, Warner 80--the Warner booklet says #2 and #3 are excluded because they are "minutia"]

WoO 199: Ich bin der Herr von zu [Naxos 90, Warner 80]

Hess 229: Languisco e moro for two voices [Naxos 90, Warner 80]

Hess 263 and 264: Drafts of Te solo adoro [Naxos 90, Warner 80] (on Warner listed under WoO 186)

RARITY COMMON TO DG AND WARNER:

WoO Anh.10: Eight Variations on Ich hab’ ein kleines Hüttchen nur for Piano [DG 101, Warner 30]. Both boxes use the same recording by Rudolf Buchbinder.

RARITIES COMMON TO ALL THREE BOXES:

op.9/1: String Trio, Scherzo with Alternative Trio Hess 28 [DG disc 100, Naxos disc 45, Warner disc 46 (not labelled as such, but the alternative Trio is track 6 on Warner 46]

op.121b: Opferlied, 1824 version for solo voice, choir and orchestra [DG 93, Naxos 76, Warner 68]

op.122: Bundeslied for chorus and orchestra [DG 93, Naxos 75, Warner 68]

WoO 19: March in F, 1822 version with Trio, Hess 9 [DG 25, Naxos 59, Warner 11]

WoO 63: 9 Variations on a March by Dressler, original 1782 version [DG 47, Naxos 29, Warner 28]

WoO 99: Italian Part-songs: 21 of the 25 songs are in common [DG 85, Naxos 90], plus Naxos also has the other four [see above]. Warner includes 24 of the 25 [Warner 80], omitting only WoO 99/12a, the solo voice version of Salvo tu vuoi lo sposo, which is unique to the Naxos box

WoO 169: Ich küsse Sie for voice and choir (1816) [Naxos 90, DG 85, Warner 80]

WoO 170: Ars longa, vita brevis for choir (1815/16) [Naxos 90, DG 85, Warner 80]

WoO 200: O Hoffnung four bar theme as teaching exercise for Archduke Rudolph for Piano [DG 99, Naxos 34, Warner 79]

WoO 210: Allegretto in B minor for String Quartet [DG 100, Naxos 54, Warner 55]

WoO 211: Andante in C Major for piano [DG 99, Naxos 34, Warner 32]

WoO 212: Anglaise in D Major for Piano [DG 99, Naxos 17, Warner 32]

WoO 213: Four Bagatelles for Piano [DG 99, Naxos 17, Warner 26]

WoO 214: Bagatelle in C minor, Hess 69 [DG 44, Naxos 16, Warner 32]

WoO 215: Fugue in C (Hess 64) [DG 46, Naxos 16, Warner 32]

WoO 216a: Bagatelle in C Major for Piano [DG 99, Naxos 14, Warner 26]

WoO 216b: Bagatelle in Eb Major for Piano [DG 99, Naxos 14, Warner 26]

WoO 217: Minuet in F Major for Piano [DG 99, Naxos 17, Warner 32]

WoO 218: Minuet in C Major for Piano [DG 46 and 99 (recording on DG disc 99 misidentified as Hess 59), Naxos 15, Warner 32]

WoO 219: Waltz in C Minor for Piano [DG 99, Naxos 17, Warner 32]

WoO 221: Herr Graf, ich komme zu fragen for choir and piano (c. 1796-1797) [Naxos 90, DG 85, Warner 80]

WoO 227: Esel aller Esel [DG 85, Naxos 90, Warner 80]

WoO Unv 7: String quintet fragment in D minor (Hess 40) [DG 79, Naxos 63, Warner 59]

WoO Anh.4: Flute Sonata in B-Flat Major [DG 101, Naxos 64, Warner 38]

Hess 58: Piano exercise in B flat major/minor for Piano [DG 99, Naxos 32, Warner 32]

Hess 59: Piano Piece in C major for Piano [DG 99 (in same track as Hess 58, misidentified), Naxos 32, Warner 32]

Hess 67: Two German Dances in F major/minor for Piano [DG 99, Naxos 16, Warner 32]

HIDDEN (unindexed) ITEMS

op.72a: Leonore Overture #2 [DG 102] is used as the overture to the 1805 Leonore by Blomstedt [Naxos 69 and Warner 63]

WoO 2b: Introduction to Act II of 1805 version of Leonore [Naxos 7 and Warner 11] is incorporated into the Gardiner Leonore [DG 28]

Hess 28: Second Trio to Scherzo of String Trio op.9/1 appears unlabeled as such as track 6 of CD 46 in the Warner box. [DG 100, Naxos 45, Warner 46]

ALL THREE SETS MISSING (major catalogued and complete items only)

op.63: Piano Trio (doubtful)

op.68: Alternate ending to Pastoral Symphony, II (Scene by the brook)

op. 87: String trio arrangement by Beethoven of Trio for 2 oboes and English horn

op.105: Violin version of 6 variations on folksongs

op.107: Nos. 2, 5, 8 and 10 of violin version of 10 variations on folksongs

WoO 18: March in F, Gesamtausgabe version without cymbals or triangle

WoO 19: March in F, Gesamtausgabe version without cymbals or triangle

Forty-five variant folksong arrangements that have flute parts in place of violin

WoO 205: Musical Greetings

WoO 223: Canon, Thut auf (Biamonti 752)

WoO 224: Canon, Cacatum non est pictum

WoO 225: Canon, Grossen Dank für solche Gnade (Hess 303)

WoO 226: Canon, Fettlümerl und Bankert haben triumphirt (Hess 260)

WoO 228: Musical greetings: Ah, Tobias and Tobias (Hess 285)

Unv 5: Concertante in D (full score fragment of the beginning)

Hess 1: Original ending to 8th Symphony, first movement

Hess 47: Piano trio arrangement of string trio op.3 (1st movement and fragment of 2nd movement)

Hess 82: Cadenza senza misura for Rondo of Piano Concerto #4

Hess 83: Very brief cadenza for Rondo of Piano Concerto #4

Hess 92: Bundeslied for solo voice and piano

Hess 110: Leonore 1806 version; Gardiner on DG incorporates some elements from it [DG 28-29]

Hess 111: Early version of Nur hurtig fort from Leonore

Hess 112: 1806 version of Rocco’s gold aria, cut from the 1806 Leonore

Hess 113: Marzelline’s Aria with abbreviated conclusion

Hess 114: Recitative for Don Fernando, Dresden version of Fidelio

Hess 121: Aria of Marzelline O wär ich schon mit dir vereint in C

Hess 233: Counterpoint exercises for Haydn

Hess 234: Exercises in strict counterpoint for Albrechtsberger

Hess 235: Exercises in free counterpoint for Albrechstberger

Hess 236: Remainder of 2-voice fugues

Hess 237: Remainder of 3-voice fugues

Hess 238: Remainder of 4-voice fugues

Hess 239: 1 of the 3 Chorale Fugues

Hess 240: 2-voice exercises in Double counterpoint of the octave

Hess 241: Exercises in Double counterpoint of the octave and a third

Hess 242: Exercises in Double counterpoint of the octave and a fifth

Hess 243: Remainder of double fugues

Hess 245: Musical Joke for 3 voices, Sankt Petrus ist ein Fels

Hess 246: Double fugue on Kyrie eleison

Hess 299: Bester Magistrat

Hess 300: Canon Liebe mich, werter Weissenbach

Hess 301: Waehner, es ist kein Wahn

Hess 302: Canon, Uns geht es kannabalisch wohl als wie fünfhundert Säuen

Hess 304: Canon, Ich blase das Fagot

Hess 305: Canon Geschalgen ist der Feind

Hess 321: Little instrumental melody in B-flat

Hess 322: Gott allein ist unser Herr, er allein

Hess 323: Leb wohl, schöne Abendsonne

Hess 327: Two little melodies in A minor

Biamonti 15: Musical Joke, Der arme Componist



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