Day 248: Piano Sonatas Op. 13 “Pathetique,” Op. 22, Op. 26 “Funeral March,” Op. 78

BeethovenCD53Today’s CD, like so many others, features some of Beethoven’s best work – at least, to my ears.

For example, the first composition – Piano Sonata No. 8 in C Minor Op. 13 “Pathetique,” which is analyzed on Wikipedia in this entry:

Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13, commonly known as Sonata Pathétique, was written in 1798 when the composer was 27 years old, and was published in 1799. Beethoven dedicated the work to his friend Prince Karl von Lichnowsky. Although commonly thought to be one of the few works to be named by the composer himself, it was actually named Grande sonate pathétique (to Beethoven’s liking) by the publisher, who was impressed by the sonata’s tragic sonorities.

Prominent musicologists debate whether or not the Pathétique may have been inspired by Mozart’s piano sonata K. 457, since both compositions are in C minor and have three very similar movements. The second movement, “Adagio cantabile”, especially, makes use of a theme remarkably similar to that of the spacious second movement of Mozart’s sonata. However, Beethoven’s sonata uses a unique motif line throughout, a major difference from Haydn or Mozart’s creation.

This sounds more like Beethoven than the pieces he dedicated to Haydn. It’s dynamic, with an emphasis on introspection and melancholy.

Coincidentally, as I was listening to this piece, I wondered if Continue reading

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 235: String Quartets Op. 59 No. 3 “Rasumovsky” & Op. 74 “Harp”

BeethovenCD40This, the third of the “Rasumovsky” string quartets, is even better than the previous two.

Don’t ask me why.

It’s just really fine, well-crafted music played by a reknowned group of musicians, the Suske Quartett:

Karl Suske violin I
Klaus Peters violin II
Karl-Heinz Dommus viola
Matthias Pfaender cello

Here’s what’s on this CD:

String Quartet No. 9 in C Op. 59 No. 3 “Rasumovsky”

NOTE: All three of the “Rasumovsky” string quartets were written in 1806. Beethoven was 36, and well on his way to being deaf.

String Quartet No. 10 in E Flat Op. 74 “Harp”

This was published in 1809. Beethoven was 39. According to its entry on Wiki,

The nickname “Harp” refers to the characteristic pizzicato sections in the Allegro of the first movement, where pairs of members of the quartet alternate notes in an arpeggio, reminiscent of the plucking of a harp. Like many nicknames for Beethoven’s works, this was created by the publisher.

Woo-hoo! I love pizzicato!

And this is a pizzicato-lover’s dream come true. It’s brilliant. So much Continue reading

Day 220: Piano Trios II

BeethovenCD25More piano trios. More fleet-fingered playing from Francois Dumont.

Fun, fun music.

The interplay between the members of Trio Elegiaque (Laurent Le Flecher on violin, Virginie Constant on cello, and Francois Dumont on piano) is delightful. All three instruments perfectly complement one another.

Sometimes, Dumont will cut himself from the pack with a flurry of notes. Sometimes, Le Flecher will do so with the violin. And the cellist provides the perfect underpinning for it all. Much like a great bass player does in a rock band.

It’s all about the groove, baby.

Here’s what’s on tap today:

Beethoven Piano Trio in C Minor Op. 1 No. 3 (First performed in 1793. Beethoven was 23.)

Beethoven Piano Trio in E Flat Op. 70. No. 2
(Published in 1809. Beethoven was 39.)

Beethoven Piano Trio in E Flat Op. 44 (Composed 1792-1800. Beethoven was 22-30.)

Beethoven’s music runs the gamut from introspective, melancholy, and lonely to loud, vibrant, and uptempo.

He’s the King of Dynamics.

Day 219: Piano Trios I

BeethovenCD24Beautiful music.

Which is precisely what I need at the moment.

After two trips to the ER at our local hospitals in about as many weeks, I’m ready for something beautiful.

Beethoven is just what the doctor ordered.

Compositions on today’s CD are:

Piano Trio in G Op. 1 No. 2

From its entry on Wikipedia, we learn,

Ludwig van Beethoven’s Opus 1 is a set of three piano trios (written for piano, violin, and violoncello), first performed in 1793 in the house of Prince Lichnowsky, to whom they are dedicated. The trios were published in 1795.

Despite the Op. 1 designation these were not Beethoven’s first published compositions; this distinction belongs to his Dressler Variations for keyboard (WoO 63).

This trio is lively and expansive. Lots of opportunity for the pianist to showcase his dexterity.

Beethoven was 23 when this trio was Continue reading