Day 263: The Ruins of Athens, King Stephen, Germania, et al

BeethovenCD68There’s something so satisfying about Beethoven’s music.

There are four compositions on today’s CD:

1. The Ruins of Athens

2. King Stephen

3. Germania

4. Chor Auf Die Verbundeten

It gave me a chuckle to see that three of the four titles are in English on the cover of the CD sleeve. But the fourth one isn’t. It’s like whomever was translating either just gave up, or there’s not a concise translation.

For some reason, none of the titles are in English on the back of the CD sleeve. Go figure.

According to its entry on Wikipedia,

The Ruins of Athens (Die Ruinen von Athen), Opus 113, is a set of incidental music pieces written in 1811 by Ludwig van Beethoven. The music was written to accompany the play of the same name by August von Kotzebue, for the dedication of a new theatre at Pest.

A second overture was written in 1822 for the same play. It was composed especially for the reopening of Vienna’s Theater in der Josefstadt in 1822. The second overture is now known as The Consecration of the House.

Perhaps the best-known music from The Ruins of Athens is the Turkish March, a theme that even many who are not avid classical music listeners are familiar with. The overture and the Turkish March are often performed separately, and the other pieces of this set are not often heard[citation needed]. Another of Beethoven’s compositions, Six variations on an original theme, Op. 76, uses the Turkish March as its theme.

And this entry about the Turkish March:

The Turkish March (Marcia alla turca) is a well-known classical march theme by Ludwig van Beethoven. It was written in the Turkish style popular in music of the time.

The theme was first used in Beethoven’s “6 Variations on an Original Theme”, Op. 76, of 1809. In 1811 Beethoven wrote an overture and incidental music to a play by August von Kotzebue called The Ruins of Athens (Op. 113), which premiered in Pest in 1812. The Turkish March appears as item No. 4 of the incidental music. Many music lovers associate the theme with The Ruins of Athens, although that was not its original appearance.

The march is in B flat major, tempo vivace and 2/4 time. Its dynamic scheme is highly suggestive of a procession passing by, starting out pianissimo, poco a poco rising to a fortissimo climax and then receding back to pianissimo by the coda.

The Overture to The Ruins of Athens is amazing. But Continue reading

Day 205: A Mixed Bag

BeethovenCD10Today’s CD features three compositions by three different sets of performers, three different orchestras, and three different conductors.

Triple Concerto in C Op. 56 features:

Yefim Bronfman piano
Gil Shaham violin
Truls Mork cello
Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich

This is a brash, rich composition with lots of dynamics, as well as nice spaces for soloists to solo. Of special interest was Movement II (“Largo”), which gave pianist Yefim Bronfman time to shine. It’s a slower piece. But the juxtaposition of the piano with the violin is intriguing.

The Rondo of Movement III is my favorite, though. I just love it when musicians play Classical music briskly.

Piano Concerto in E Flat Wo04 features:

Martin Galling piano
Berliner Symphoniker
Carl-August Bunte conductor

This is an interesting piece of music. Different from anything else I’ve heard. More horns, for one thing. A different recording of an orchestra. The sound is slightly different, especially in the piano pieces.

Overall, very nice. Bouncy. Sounds like Baroque music in some respects, which may be expected given that it was composed in the late 1700s.

Rondo in B Flat Wo06 for piano and orchestra features:

Walter Klien piano
Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra
Jerzy Semkow conductor

This is a strange little composition. Hard to describe it. Pleasant. Interesting piano sound.

Overall, this CD is filled with great performances. But the compositions aren’t my favorites.

Day 203: Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 4 & Piano Concerto in D

BeethovenCD8Yesterday, I thought I was done with Beethoven’s piano concertos.

Apparently not.

There are a few more to go, thankfully.

Today’s CD features two different pianists and two different orchestras.

From its entry on Wikipedia, Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Op. 58:

…was premiered in March 1807 at a private concert of the home of Prince Franz Joseph von Lobkowitz. The Coriolan Overture and the Fourth Symphony were premiered in that same concert. However, the public premiere was not until 22 December 1808 in Vienna at the Theater an der Wien. Beethoven again took the stage as soloist. This was part of a marathon concert which saw Beethoven’s last appearance as a soloist with orchestra, as well as the premieres of the Choral Fantasy and the Fifth and Sixth symphonies. Beethoven dedicated the concerto to his friend, student, and patron, the Archduke Rudolph.

A review in the May 1809 edition of the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung states that “[this concerto] is the most admirable, singular, artistic and complex Beethoven concerto ever”. However, after its first performance, the piece was neglected until 1836, when it was revived by Felix Mendelssohn. Today, the work is widely performed and recorded, and is considered to be one of the central works of the piano concerto literature.

Beethoven was 37.

Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Op. 58 features: Continue reading