In order to make Beethoven’s Symphonies accessible outside a concert hall, they have often been arranged for smaller instrumentation appropriate for chamber concerts. Titled ‘The Chamber Eroica’, the third Symphony was published in an adaptation as piano quartet in1807, and is here performed by Aaron Shorr (piano), Peter Sheppard Skaerved (violin), Dov Scheindlin (viola) and Neil Heyde (cello). It is not known who prepared this version; possibly the composer himself.
A chamber music edition of this broadly laid-out Symphony may initially seem hard to imagine. However it is possible to dissociate from the familiar soundworld of the original. Due to the compact instrumentation, each voice appears significantly more accessible. In an unbeknown way one can feel to be closer to the composition: the harmonic and rhythmic peculiarities gain in importance, because the dramatic sound of the orchestra is omitted.
The ensemble approaches the first and third movement with pleasant reservation, ever balanced and thought-out in tempi and dynamics. All the more dramatic is the ending of the Finale: Where the previous movements were reserved, passion, though still under control, is permitted to erupt here. The strings display convincing skill, using a transparent presentation of vibrato, and pianist Shorr is convincing with discreet precision. Now and then he could emphasize the upper range, especially in passages where he substitutes for the important upper voices. In general the piano plays a special role, because it can pick up various orchestral voices as well as act percussively.