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 213: Chamber Music for Flute II

BeethovenCD18 Very little is as cute as 10 Themes and Variations Op 107.

These diminutive compositions feature piano and flute frolicking together like deer and antelope, asking and answering in double-time fashion…or meandering like a meadow brook…with themes ranging from Scottish to Russian to Tyrolian.

I love it.

Performers today are:

Jean-Pierre Rampal flute

Christian Larde, Alain Marion flute (tracks 11-13)

Robert Veyron-Lacrois piano

According to the Wikipedia entry listing all of Beethoven’s compositions, these 10 variations were composed in 1820. Beethoven was 50 and, unbeknownst to him, just seven years away from his untimely death.

The next set of compositions – Trio in G – consists of three movements for three flutes.

They are lovely.

Betthoven has a delicate touch with these instruments.

Finally, this CD features Sonata in B Flat for flute and piano.

If I had to pick a “least” favorite on this CD, it would be Sonata in B Flat. But “least” is very relative. I prefer this to anything I heard from Haydn a couple of months ago.