No. 15, in D major Op. 28
Beethoven invents jazz! Known, fairly accurately, as The Pastoral, this calm and sunny gem strolls along in a manner that belies the sturm und drang to come. The second movement contains passages of lyrical flights of fancy that sound like the pianist is extemporising over a wonderful left hand accompaniment. It lends itself perfectly to Glenn Gould’s humalong pure style, although it’s a little too sec for some tastes.
A fine alternative is recently-retired Alfred Brendel. Not late, digital Philips Brendel, but the younger, spontaneous version, originally on the Vox Turnabout label, now part of a terrific giant box set of early Brendel. This includes virtually all of Beethoven’s piano output – even the relatively minor variations – and it’s still fresh. Get it cheap in Z shops or eBay. In later years Brendel became a bit boring in The Knife’s opinion, although his writing on music reveals a rare talent.
The Knife prefers Gould, but they both hit the mark, beautifully.