Day 245: Piano Sonatas Op. 2 No. 1, Op. 79, Op. 10 Nos. 1 & 2, Op. 14 No. 1

BeethovenCD50jpgMore Alfred Brendel from 1962-64.

More Beethoven piano sonatas, circa late 1700s/early 1800s.

These are introspective, less flamboyant. They seem more melancholy than joyful.

Piano Sonata No. 1 in F Minor Op. 2 No. 1

From its entry on Wikipedia:

Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Op. 2, No. 1, was written in 1795 and dedicated to Joseph Haydn. A typical performance of the entire work lasts about 17–20 minutes.

Beethoven was 25.

Piano Sonata No. 25 in G Op. 79

From its entry on Wiki:

The Piano Sonata No. 25 in G major, Op. 79, was written by Ludwig van Beethoven in 1809. It consists of three movements…

It is one of Beethoven’s shorter sonatas with an approximate performance time of only eleven minutes, if Beethoven’s prescribed repeats are all observed. It is also the shortest of his sonatas with more than two movements.

Beethoven was Continue reading

Day 221: Piano Trios III

BeethovenCD26If you liked the first two CDs of piano trios, you’ll like this one.

I did.

And I do.

But after hearing this many piano trios I’m starting to think I’d like to hear something different. They all tend to sound more or less the same after awhile.

Today’s CD features the following compositions:

Piano Trio in E Flat Op. 1 No. 1 (Composed 1795)

Piano Trio in D after Symphony No. 2

Triosatz in E Flat (Composed 1790-1792)

Of course, I need to know what a Triosatz is.

Oddly enough, I can’t find information on the word itself.

Oh, well.

Performers for today’s CD are the same as they’ve been:

Trio Elegiaque
Laurent Le Flecher violin
Virginie Constant cello
Francois Dumont piano

The Trio remains as engaging and vibrant as it’s been on the last couple of CDs. I’d love to watch Francois Dumont play this music. His fingers must be a blur.

Day 214: Septet Op 20 & Sextet Op 81B

BeethovenCD19The first of the two compositions on today’s CD is Septet in E Flat Op 20, performed by Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie.

Septet, in case you’re not up on your German/Latin etymology, means seven. So this composition consists of seven instrumentalists.

According to its entry on Wikipedia, the Septet in E Flat Op 20,

was sketched out in 1799, completed, and first performed in 1800 and published in 1802. The score contains the notation: “Der Kaiserin Maria Theresia gewidmet”, or translated, “Dedicated to the Empress Maria Theresa.” It is scored for clarinet, horn, bassoon, violin, viola, cello, and double bass. It is in six movements.

So, Beethoven was 29 when this was “sketched out,” 30 when it was first performed, and 32 when it was published.

This piece of music may only have seven instruments, but it sounds very full, quite “heavy,” in a sense. Dramatic, for sure.

The second composition is Sextet in E Flat Op 81B, performed by Erben Quartet with Gerhard Meyer and Rudolf Horold playing the horn. (Sextet means six.)

According to an entry on the LA Philharmonic site, this piece was composed early, about 1795, but not published until 1810, which accounts for its high Opus number.

Beethoven was 25 was he composed this, and 40 when it was published.

It’s a solid piece of writing. But not much about it stands out for me, perhaps because it seems rather ponderous, almost lugubrious. It seems somber.

Day 201: Beethoven Piano Concertos No. 1 & No. 2

BeethovenCD6Some parts of Beethoven’s Piano Concert No. 1 in C Op. 15 remind me of Chopin - dreamy, ethereal, and very pretty.

Other parts, remind me of something Glenn Gould would play – a dramatic flurry of notes that astound for their speed and complexity, the musical equivalent of one of those tour buses that winds its way along narrow mountain roads with one wheel hanging over the precipice.

There’s also a bit of Rachmaninoff‘s brazen complexity in this music. It reminds me of the movie Shine in which pianist David Helfgott (played by Geoffrey Rush) suffers a mental breakdown during a competition at which he plays the “Rach 3″ (Rachmaninoff’s 3rd Concerto).

And that’s just in the first movement (“Allegro con brio”).

Now’s a good time to bring back the link to Wikipedia’s Tempo and Mood Markings entry.

Movement II (“Largo”) brings it down, retards the pace a bit, makes it more ponderous, give listeners a chance to recover from the con-brio onslaught of Movement I.

Movement III (“Rondo: Allegro scherzando”) ramps it back up again. Its tempo and mood markings indicate this is to be played briskly and playfully. And it is that. In spades.

I hate to sound like a moron. But I had no idea Beethoven was this gifted. These compositions rock me back in my chair. I’m astounded.

I keep waiting to find a favorite. But they’ve all been favorites. I’d listen to everything I’ve heard so far again. And again. It’s perfect music as Continue reading