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MCS
05-10-2001, 01:59 AM
I know that the Fifth Concerto was not performed by LvB, but I have read that he tried to find someone to premier the Fourth also, because of his increasing deafness. Is this true? Also, are there any reports as to how that premier turned out?
I really love this piece. It doesn't seem to get the attention that the Emperor gets, but it is a beautiful work, IMHO.
And, why oh why, did he stop writing concertos (concerti?) when he was on such a roll? Did he lose interest in that form because he would never be able to perform them? http://www.gyrix.com/~cgraye/ubb/frown.gif

Mary

PDG
05-10-2001, 02:34 AM
Originally posted by MCS:
I know that the Fifth Concerto was not performed by LvB, but I have read that he tried to find someone to premier the Fourth also, because of his increasing deafness. Is this true? Also, are there any reports as to how that premier turned out?

Beethoven played the piano, at what turned out to be his last public appearance as a soloist, that mammoth 4 and a half hour concert of December 22nd, 1808. Also premiered were both the 5th & 6th Symphonies, the Choral Fantasia, parts of the Mass in C, & other vocal pieces!


I really love this piece. It doesn't seem to get the attention that the Emperor gets, but it is a beautiful work, IMHO.

Liszt imagined Orpheus taming the Furies by his music, in the slow mvt, written for piano & strings only.


And, why oh why, did he stop writing concertos (concerti?) when he was on such a roll? Did he lose interest in that form because he would never be able to perform them? http://www.gyrix.com/~cgraye/ubb/frown.gif
Mary

There are sketches for an unfinished 6th Piano Concerto, but I think you're right, Mary; knowing he would no longer be able to do justice to them when performing this type of composition, must have helped steer him away from them as vehicles of expression.




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PDG (Peter)

NickB
05-10-2001, 06:17 AM
Originally posted by PDG:
Beethoven played the piano, at what turned out to be his last public appearance as a soloist, that mammoth 4 and a half hour concert of December 22nd, 1808. Also premiered were both the 5th & 6th Symphonies, the Choral Fantasia, parts of the Mass in C, & other vocal pieces!


Wouldn't THAT have been the performance of all performances! I have read that the 4th was simply the last concerto he performed puclicly, not specifically that this premiere of the 4th was his last public piano performance.

Also, the bits about the troubles he had with the introduction to the Choral Fantasy and having to stop and start over again...fascinating to witness that, eh?

Originally posted by MCS:
I really love this piece. It doesn't seem to get the attention that the Emperor gets, but it is a beautiful work, IMHO.

There was a nice PBS (Public Broadcasting) TV program here in the States a couple of years ago called _The Art of the Piano_, on 20th century pianists. Interestingly, the 4th got quite a bit of airplay, including the
entire 2nd movement on film, though I forget
the pianist & orchestra.
www.pbs.org/whatson/press/summer/gp_artofpiano.htm (http://www.pbs.org/whatson/press/summer/gp_artofpiano.htm)

I've also heard or read that the 4th was B's personal favorite.

Is it just me, or was the 4th rather ahead of its time?

What non-B composer piano c'to's do you all like, in the way that you enjoy the 4th? IOW, if I really like the 4th (of course), what c'to's should I look for by others? Someone recommended Saint-Saens', which I now have, and am trying to get into. (The newish Previn/Royal Philharmonic set.)

We saw a lovely performance of the 3rd at an outdoor festival here in Oregon last year by
Navah Perlman. Strikingly good cadenza, with a well-matched orchestral performance. www.brittfest.org/Gallery/pages/classicalhill.html (http://www.brittfest.org/Gallery/pages/classicalhill.html) gives an idea of the beauty of the
setting.

Sibelius Sym 2 was the final piece of the show; I love that work well enough to forgive them for placing it AFTER B.


[This message has been edited by NickB (edited 05-10-2001).]

PDG
05-10-2001, 06:51 AM
It was a cold night in Vienna, on Dec. 22, 1808, & the natives were restless. The orchestra was under-rehearsed, & orchestral & vocal performers were hampered by running noses & shivers (including the soprano), but, WOW, talk about having too much of a good thing! - I'd have sat there naked, throughout (brrrrr!!)

Apparently, the intro to the Choral Fantasia was improvised by Beethoven, on the spot.

The 4th Concerto would be the greatest ever.............were it not for the 5th http://www.gyrix.com/~cgraye/ubb/wink.gif

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PDG (Peter)

MCS
05-10-2001, 07:34 AM
Originally posted by PDG:
There are sketches for an unfinished 6th Piano Concerto, but I think you're right, Mary; knowing he would no longer be able to do justice to them when performing this type of composition, must have helped steer him away from them as vehicles of expression.



But he kept on writing sonatas (sonatae?)...I guess he could still play sonatas even after his hearing was bad, even if only in his own room but concerti were, by necessity, more public.

BTW, I agree with you on the relative merits of the 4th and 5th Peter...But there are days when the theme from the 1st mvt of the 4th gets stuck in my head and NOTHING sounds better than it...

Mary

Peter
05-10-2001, 02:26 PM
Beethoven first performed the 4th concerto in March 1807 at Lobkowitz palace Vienna - this and the Dec 1808 concert were the only two occasions the work was performed in B's lifetime. Archduke Rudolph was the lucky dedicatee of the 4th as well as the 5th concerto!

The very start of this concerto is remarkable - the piano opens softly and unaccompanied with a 5 bar phrase of the utmost quality, combining rhythmic and melodic interest. [Only on one occasion had Mozart attempted such a concerto opening (K.271) but the effect is much less striking].

Louis Spohr describes the 1808 performance:

"Beethoven was playing a new piano concerto of his, but already at the first tutti, forgetting that he was soloist, he jumped up and began to conduct in his own peculiar fashion. At the first Sforzando he threw out his arms so wide that he knocked over both the lamps from the music stand of the piano. The audience laughed and Beethoven was so beside himself over this disturbance that he stopped the orchestra and made them start again. Seyfried, worried for fear that this would happen again, took the precaution of ordering two choirboys to stand next to Beethoven and hold the lamps. One of them innocently stepped closer and followed the music from the piano part. But when the fatal Sforzando burst forth, the poor boy received from Beethoven's right hand such a slap in the face that he dropped the lamp to the floor. The other, more wary boy, who had been anxiously following Beethoven's movements, succeeded in avoiding the blow by ducking in time. If the audience had laughed the first time, they now indulged in a truly bacchanalian riot. Beethoven broke out in such a fury that when he struck the first chord of the solo, he broke six strings. Every effort of the true music-lovers to restore calm and attention remained unavailing for some time; thus the first Allegro of the Concerto was completely lost to the audience."



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'Man know thyself'

Michael
05-11-2001, 05:05 AM
The weird thing about the opening of the Fourth Piano Concerto is its unlikely resemblance to the first movement of the Fifth Symphony - the same four-note rhythm takes up so much of the concerto movement - but it occupies a totally different sound-world. The initial sketches of both works were jotted down about the same time.
Barry Cooper brought out revised editions of the 2nd and 4th Piano Concertos a few years back. They are supposedly the composer's final word on these two works. Dr Cooper says about the 4th Concerto: "This revised version, which has never previously been recorded, is important for three reasons in particular: it evidently approximates to what Beethoven played on the only occasion when he performed the work in public; it is later than the published version and therefore supersedes it as being his final known thoughts on the work: and it is generally more original, irregular, spectacular and arguably better than the usual version".
The differences are more subtle than Barry Cooper's description would seem to indicate, and I, for one, after listening for twenty-five years to the original version, found the changes hard to stomach. Somebody then put forward the argument that these revisions were intended for a small-ensemble arrangement of the concerto - and the last I heard was that Dr Cooper is still hotly contesting that theory.
The revised version of the 2nd Concerto is even more startling, with a completely new theme in the opening tutti.
I think Barry Cooper should have left well enough alone (the same goes for his fabrication of the Tenth Symphony). Even though he uses B's own amendments, in the G major concerto he was literally attempting to improve on perfection itself.
I read somewhere that many younger listeners regard the "Emperor" as the greatest piano concerto of all, but when they get older they realise there is a greater one: the Fourth.

M.

Serge
05-11-2001, 06:03 AM
The theme to the Fourth, 1st mov't, is so yearning... so wistful and longing. It is a little miracle to my ears. However, while I find the fourth very moving, my vote still goes to the Fifth, just 'cause it's so regal.

MCS
05-11-2001, 06:23 AM
Originally posted by Peter:
...
Louis Spohr describes the 1808 performance:

"...At the first Sforzando he threw out his arms so wide that he knocked over both the lamps from the music stand of the piano...."

[/B]

Thank you, Peter, for that, um...illuminating description of the 4th's premier....I was kind of hoping for something more...um..glorious and less, uh, slapstick? Poor Ludvig...I wonder if he was ever able to look back on that and laugh..

Mary



[This message has been edited by MCS (edited 05-11-2001).]

Peter
05-11-2001, 02:16 PM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Michael:
The weird thing about the opening of the Fourth Piano Concerto is its unlikely resemblance to the first movement of the Fifth Symphony - the same four-note rhythm takes up so much of the concerto movement - but it occupies a totally different sound-world. The initial sketches of both works were jotted down about the same time.

The Violin concerto (around the same date)also opens with a simple rhythmic cell of repeated notes which dominates its 1st movement. Incidentally Mozart's piano concerto in C K.503 uses the same rhythm as Beethoven's 5th.


I think Barry Cooper should have left well enough alone (the same goes for his fabrication of the Tenth Symphony). Even though he uses B's own amendments, in the G major concerto he was literally attempting to improve on perfection itself.


I agree - the final versions as far as I'm concerned are the published ones - B had plenty of years to submit these amendments, and as far as I am aware, he never did.

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'Man know thyself'

Rod
05-11-2001, 04:37 PM
Originally posted by PDG:
There are sketches for an unfinished 6th Piano Concerto, but I think you're right, Mary; knowing he would no longer be able to do justice to them when performing this type of composition, must have helped steer him away from them as vehicles of expression.



Apparently, according to a source I cannot recall at this moment, B may have rejected the 6th because the material was simply not original enough by his standards, some of it baring resemblance in particular to passages in the violin concerto.

Regarding you comments about Liszt's comparison with the Orpheus myth, I have a interesting article that suggests the whole of the 4th has a latent programme regarding the myth. All the movements are unusual in various ways, you could ask why B reserved the timpani and trumpets until the last movement. Certainly the piano part in the 1st movement is unusually bubbling in this work by B's standards, one could say more 'harp like' - one notices this more on the fortepiano. Also a contemporary painting shows B holding a lyre, so B may have had an interest in the subject at the time. I could scan the article and produce it here if anyone is interested.

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"If I were but of noble birth..." - Rod Corkin

PDG
05-11-2001, 11:56 PM
I believe that that painting of LvB holding a lyre is the only known one to show him almost in full figure.

If B. were so interested in the harp, then it is curious that he only ever used it once in orchestral composition - that lovely Adagio from The Creatures of Prometheus.

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PDG (Peter)