Day 266: Der Glorreiche Augenblick, Polyphonic Italian Songs

BeethovenCD71The heck is a “Der Glorreiche Augenblick”?

Google time!

I see. Der Glorreiche Augenblick means The Glorious Moment. According to the translation of the German Wikipedia page:

Beethoven composed the cantata for the opening of the Congress of Vienna on November 1, 1814 under the direction of the Klemens Wenzel Lothar von Metternich , the reorganization of Europe after the Napoleonic Wars was to govern.

The text is by Aloys Weissenbach , already the text for a similar composition of Friedrich August Kanne had written. How Weissbach reported that the contact came by, he received an invitation to coffee after attending a performance of Fidelio on September 26, 1814 by Beethoven.

The cantata was performed as part of an academy on November 29, 1814; during this sounded Beethoven’s 7th Symphony in A major, Op 92 , and the battle scenes Wellington’s Victory or the Battle of Vittoria op 91 With 68 string parts Beethoven had hitherto strongest orchestra of his career are available. Perhaps Beethoven was at the opening of Congress originally his choir have your founder happier States list (WoO 95).

In 1825, Beethoven was considering, the cantata to be supplemented by an overture.

According to an article written by Tim Ashley for The Guardian Music page,

Beethoven’s cantata Der Glorreiche Augenblick was first performed in 1814, and the “glorious moment” it celebrates was the opening of the Congress of Vienna, the aim of which was to redraw the map of Europe after the Napoleonic wars. The text is messy, and its underlying vision of Hapsburg Austria donning its “imperial mantle” to safeguard European freedom nowadays seems suspect. The score, however, is by no means negligible: there are strong links with Fidelio, as well as flashes forward to the Ninth Symphony and Missa Solemnis.

Glorious Day, eh?

I’m not hearing “glorious” in these cantatas. I’m hearing operatic singing that is a tough slog for me. I can appreciate the talent. I can hear the giftedness. But I still don’t like it.

To me, it’s fingernails on a chalkboard.

Much easier to listen to is the second of the two compositions on today’s CD: Polyphonic Italian Songs, Wo099.

The soprano (Heike Hellmann) still grates on me. But the tenor (Daniel Johannsen) is Continue reading

Day 242: Piano Sonatas Opp. 101, 109 & 90

BeethovenCD47More exquisite Alfred Brendel performances.

More gorgeous Beethoven Piano Sonatas.

Beethoven’s symphonies notwithstanding (which I revere above all), I enjoy his piano sonatas more than all of his other compositions – combined.

Solo piano, especially in the hands of someone as gifted as Alfred Brendel, is almost always magic to my ears.

But these Beethoven piano sonatas are especially wondrous.

And so is this recording, which was made in 1962-64. Yet, it sounds as fresh as if it were performed yesterday.

Here’s what I was privileged to hear today:

Piano Sonata No. 28 in A Op. 101

From its entry on Wiki:

Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 28 in A major, Op. 101, was written in 1816 and was dedicated to the pianist Baroness Dorothea Ertmann. This piano sonata runs for about 20 minutes and consists of four movements:

The Piano Sonata No. 28, Op. 101 is the first of the series of Beethoven’s “Late Period” sonatas, when his music moved in a new direction toward a more personal, more intimate, sometimes even an introspective, realm of freedom and fantasy. In this period he had achieved a complete mastery of form, texture and tonality and was subverting the very conventions he had mastered to create works of remarkable profundity and beauty.[citation needed] It is also characteristic of these late works to incorporate contrapuntal techniques (e.g. canon and fugue) into the sonata form.

Beethoven was 46 when this was composed.

Piano Sonata No. 30 in E Op. 109

From its entry on Wikipedia:

Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 30 in E major, Op. 109, composed in 1820, is the antepenultimate of his piano sonatas. In it, after the huge Hammerklavier sonata, Op. 106, Beethoven returns to a smaller scale and a more intimate character. It is dedicated to Maximiliane Brentano, the daughter of Beethoven’s long-standing friend Antonie Brentano, for whom Beethoven had already composed the short piano trio in B flat major WoO 39 in 1812. Musically, the work is characterised by a free and original approach to the traditional sonata form. Its focus is the third movement, a set of variations that interpret its theme in a wide variety of individual ways.

No. 30 Op. 109 nearly brings tears to my eyes, especially the plaintive Movement III (“Tema con variazioni”).
But Movement I (“Vivace ma non troppo – Adagio espressivo”) is just plain Continue reading

Day 199: Beethoven Symphonies 7 & 8

BeethovenCD4Even when I’m in a shitty mood (as I am right now), I can count on a Beethoven symphony to offer something interesting to discover that’ll lift me out of it.

And Symphony No. 7 in A Op. 92 offered plenty.

For one thing, Movement I (“Poco sostenuto – Vivace”) contained repeating melodies that I found myself listening for.

Movement I is dynamic in a way that I’ve come to expect from Beethoven. But also just as delicate.

But it was Movement II (“Allegretto”) that really caused me to sit up and take notice. I’ve heard this before. Recently, in fact. So I dug around a bit (meaning I Googled) and discovered that it’s part of the score to the Oscar-winning movie The King’s Speech. It’s the music playing as the King prepares to deliver his speech to the nation regarding England’s response to Hitler.

Movement II is as brilliant a piece of music as I’ve ever come across. It’s majestic, stately, melodic, intricate, and compelling. I am drawn to it. It is musical magic.

Speaking of the second movement (can I hear something remarkable, or can I hear something remarkable?), its entry on Wikipedia says this:

The Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92, is a symphony in four movements composed by Ludwig van Beethoven between 1811 and 1812, while improving his health in the Bohemian spa town of Teplice. The work is dedicated to Count Moritz von Fries.

At its première, Beethoven was noted as remarking that it was one of his best works. The second movement, Allegretto, was the most popular movement and had to be encored. The instant popularity of the Allegretto resulted in its frequent performance separate from the complete symphony.

And this, later in the Wiki entry:

The piece was very well received, and the second movement, the Allegretto, had to be encored immediately. Spohr made particular mention of Beethoven’s antics on the rostrum (“as a sforzando occurred, he tore his arms with a great vehemence asunder … at the entrance of a forte he jumped in the air”), and the concert was repeated due to its immense success.

See? The second movement was an instant hit. It struck me that way, too. A remarkable composition, the most achingly beautiful I’ve ever heard – possibly the Continue reading