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Peter
11-24-2000, 12:57 AM
This Sonata dating from the year of the Heiligenstadt Testament (1802) is one of my favourites - a really passionate and personal statement full of original ideas, not least the haunting adagio recitatives in the first movement. The slow movement is notoriously difficult to bring off with its wide vocal leaps. This work surely reveals B's inner turmoil at this time far more than any other work of 1802.

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'Man know thyself'

PDG
11-24-2000, 03:58 AM
`The Tempest` is indeed a work of enormous courage - it`s as if Beethoven were saying: `I`m not going deaf, but I`m just beginning to hear.` Surely, by 1802, any inhibitions he may have felt about his worth as a composer had been blown away following the enormous success of his first symphony, and so in composing this brilliant sonata, he completely liberated his genius to the point of Beethoven - style arrogance: `I know this has great worth, whatever the views of Haydn`. Beethoven knew that pianists would find the work challenging, or maybe even unapproachable, but by then, he really didn`t care - his place in history was already assured. One can really imagine Beethoven leaning forwards against the piano straining to hear those haunting pianissimo single notes creating sostenuto harmony where, in strict musical language, none should exist. As with all truly great Beethoven music, it makes us sad when we should be happy, and it makes us happy when we should be sad. `The Tempest`, with its minor tonality (when it tries to break into major, it is always brought back quickly into line), is the most personal of all Beethoven`s early MIDDLE PERIOD works. Easily the best of the Op. 31 set, it is Beethoven putting to music what he had already said in heartrending terms via the `Heiligenstadt Testament`.

Rod
11-24-2000, 12:46 PM
Originally posted by Peter:

This Sonata dating from the year of the Heiligenstadt Testament (1802) is one of my favourites - a really passionate and personal statement full of original ideas, not least the haunting adagio recitatives in the first movement. The slow movement is notoriously difficult to bring off with its wide vocal leaps. This work surely reveals B's inner turmoil at this time far more than any other work of 1802.


Perhaps strangely I don't find this a work particularly a one of turmoil by B's standards. The minor mode 'rhetoric' in this piece is pretty much ordered and consistant throughout, ie. the emotional state is in balance, even if it is not particularly positive (but then when is any minor key movement overtly jolly?). Bearing in mind the contrasting nature of the other two works in this set one perhaps one should be wary making too much of the connection between B's mental state at the time and the nature of these particular compositions.

Rod

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

Peter
11-24-2000, 02:47 PM
Compared to later works such as the Appassionata, Op.31 no.2 isn't that tempestuos - It is still a very powerful and personal statement, a greater work in my view than the its two sisters (1 and 3).
It's interesting how the key of D minor inspired some of B's most intense works - slow movement of Op.18 no.1 and the Largo from Op.10 no.3 being two great examples from the early works.
I agree it is a mistake to read too much of a composer's state of mind into a piece - I just think knowing that this was the Heiligenstadt year , Op.31 no.2 best reflects the sentiments revealed in the testament.

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'Man know thyself'

Rod
11-24-2000, 04:53 PM
Originally posted by Peter:
Compared to later works such as the Appassionata, Op.31 no.2 isn't that tempestuos - It is still a very powerful and personal statement, a greater work in my view than the its two sisters (1 and 3).
It's interesting how the key of D minor inspired some of B's most intense works - slow movement of Op.18 no.1 and the Largo from Op.10 no.3 being two great examples from the early works.
I agree it is a mistake to read too much of a composer's state of mind into a piece - I just think knowing that this was the Heiligenstadt year , Op.31 no.2 best reflects the sentiments revealed in the testament.


Fair enough, but remember that op18 and op10 were written during what I suppose were somewhat jollier times for B, and such passion in the minor key typical of the man throughout his life. Works such as the Arioso dolente of op110, as I have mentioned before, and the Cavatina seem to more obviously Beethovens response to some specific and negative personal circumstance. It is interesting that B never dedicated op110 to anybody, which is most unusual. Perhaps he thought of it as too personal a statement to have it dedicated to someone else?

Try out the op31 set by Paul Komen on the FP (Globe) for revelatory renditions of no's 1 & 3. No other recording I've heard comes even close to this one. The scherzo of no3 has rightly been referred to as THE Beethoven masterpiece of that genre.

Rod

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

Peter
11-24-2000, 05:57 PM
The Scherzo of no.3 is indeed superb - In fact no.3 has many glories : the very opening is highly original - I'd say that opening was the most startling thing about the whole sonata !
I have heard Paul Komen's account of the later sonatas and they are superb - I shall treat myself at Xmas with the Op.31 set.
Re. Op.110 and no dedication you could be right - it is a personal and intimate work, and by this time (1821) B's romantic intrigues had rather waned !

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'Man know thyself'

Rod
11-24-2000, 06:41 PM
Originally posted by Peter:
The Scherzo of no.3 is indeed superb - In fact no.3 has many glories : the very opening is highly original - I'd say that opening was the most startling thing about the whole sonata !
I have heard Paul Komen's account of the later sonatas and they are superb - I shall treat myself at Xmas with the Op.31 set.
Re. Op.110 and no dedication you could be right - it is a personal and intimate work, and by this time (1821) B's romantic intrigues had rather waned !


Komen is assisted by having some paticularly excellent instruments at his disposal, and good recording quality from Globe. The op30 set is played on Viennese-actioned type by Salvatore la Gassa (circa 1815), and it has a really bold and colourful sound, yet also the delicacy required in works such as these.

Rod


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

Peter
11-25-2000, 02:20 PM
Yes he is indeed fortunate - in the later sonatas he uses Johann Fritz, Vienna 1825 and a Graf, Vienna c. 1830

I strongly recommend these recordings by Paul Komen - If anyone is interested see the recommended recordings on this site for details.




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'Man know thyself'

Michael
11-25-2000, 02:40 PM
Of the three works of Opus 31, my interest has shifted over the years to the first one, in G, which really demonstrates how funny Beethoven can be. In the second movement, B appears to me to create a miracle: a really beautiful movement but at the same time the composer seems to be laughing up his sleeve! The florid accompaniment is really over the top – it especially comes out in Brendel’s second analogue version, on Philips.
This almost sardonic streak in Beethoven also emerges in the Opus 9 string trios, especially the second movement of No. 2 – which again is extremely beautiful but is he being sincere, or simply laughing at the conventions of classical music and opera?
That humorous streak comes out again in the first movement of Opus 31 No. 3.
There are myriads of movements and moments in all of Beethoven that make me laugh out loud without knowing why, and quite possibly I may be laughing in all the wrong places but having lived with this guy for so long, I think I know him fairly well. As he got older, it seems to me that his musical humour increased, in spite of his outward circumstances, and the late sonatas and quartets are full of light, and - dare I say it - hilarious moments. Even the mystical second movement of Opus 111 has that "boogie-woogie" variation which must remain one of the most astonishing things he ever wrote. And funny.
I think Brendel has written an essay on Beethoven's musical sense of humour. Has anyone read it or know where it can be found?

Michael

Rod
11-25-2000, 05:28 PM
Originally posted by Michael:
Of the three works of Opus 31, my interest has shifted over the years to the first one, in G, which really demonstrates how funny Beethoven can be. In the second movement, B appears to me to create a miracle: a really beautiful movement but at the same time the composer seems to be laughing up his sleeve! The florid accompaniment is really over the top...


Some time ago it was suggested by someone that with op31/1, B was mocking the Italianate style because of this 'florid accompaniment'. Well, if there is humour there I would say it is at best latent and never cynical. I think B has made a 'nod' in the direction of other composers on various occasions, but would not publish a work in his own name that was mocking them. Yet again a large part of the problem lies with the modern instrument, whose tone is simply too thick and cumbersome for music such as this. On the fortepiano the effect is far more subtle. Also it must be remebered that B used the Italianate style on more that on occasion, op22 immediately springs to mind - a work B described as first rate.

The same can be said of the 'Boogie' variation in op111 (I believe more commonly known as the 'Jazz' variation), and indeed many passages in the first movement of this work, which seem to perplex some listeners.

I don't know about Brendels essay, though I suggest you sould not need someone else to tell you if and why a joke is funny, if it is funny at all!

Rod
Rod
Rod

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

[This message has been edited by Rod (edited 11-25-2000).]

[This message has been edited by Rod (edited 11-25-2000).]

Rod
11-25-2000, 06:37 PM
Originally posted by Peter:
Yes he is indeed fortunate - in the later sonatas he uses Johann Fritz, Vienna 1825 and a Graf, Vienna c. 1830

I strongly recommend these recordings by Paul Komen - If anyone is interested see the recommended recordings on this site for details.




I would be interested to know if you feel that the success of these performances was in any way assisted by the use of these authentic (or near enough authentic) instruments, or was it just Komen's interpretation on its own?

Rod

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

Peter
11-25-2000, 07:17 PM
What impresses me is his musicianship, technique and touch, which of course is linked to the instruments he uses - I haven't heard many other artists on FP's (as you know, they didn't use to figure that high on my list of must haves ! ) , but I was fortunate in having a pupil lend me the Komen . I believe he has also recorded Op.53,54 & 57 also on Globe.

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'Man know thyself'

Rod
11-27-2000, 01:10 PM
Originally posted by Peter:
What impresses me is his musicianship, technique and touch, which of course is linked to the instruments he uses - I haven't heard many other artists on FP's (as you know, they didn't use to figure that high on my list of must haves ! ) , but I was fortunate in having a pupil lend me the Komen . I believe he has also recorded Op.53,54 & 57 also on Globe.


Not that I was giving you a loaded question or anything! But indeed, his crisply sharp and dynamic style I suggest is impossible on a modern piano. You are right about his recording of the above works, but I haven't heard it. I can recommend Melvyn Tan's fp recording on EMI of 53, 57 and 81a, this is really first rate also. There is another Globe recording I have by Komen that has op78, 79, 81a and 90. Op78 is superb, 81a suffers from some untypical and unnecessary rubato effects from Komen in the allegro movements that hinders the momentum (Tan plays these in a pretty strict tempo, much to their benefit), the remainder are good, but not especially outstanding.

Also, for the record, my memory failed me a little regarding Komen's instrument for op31. It is by Salvatore Lagrassa, and not La Gassa!

Rod

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

Peter
11-27-2000, 02:22 PM
Op.78 would be particularly interesting to hear - It was this work played on a period instrument a good 10 years ago, (I don't know which make or by who !)that fostered my dislike of the FP - it sounded really feeble, particularly the 2nd movement.



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'Man know thyself'

Rod
11-28-2000, 12:14 PM
Originally posted by Peter:

Op.78 would be particularly interesting to hear - It was this work played on a period instrument a good 10 years ago, (I don't know which make or by who !)that fostered my dislike of the FP - it sounded really feeble, particularly the 2nd movement.




Well, Komen's effort with op78 (also with the Lagrassa piano) is virtually beyond fault in my opinion. This fp you heard, was it a live performance or a recording? I wouldn't say that all fp's are sonically without fault, but I can think of a plenty of modern piano brands (in fact the vast majority!) that will never be allowed to grace the stage at the Royal Festival Hall!!

Rod

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

Peter
11-28-2000, 02:37 PM
Originally posted by Rod:
This fp you heard, was it a live performance or a recording?
Rod



It was a recording and I have to say it seriously put me off fp's until our lively discussions last year in the 'other place'!

It would be nice if performers didn't always record B's sonatas on Steinways - how about Bosendorfer or Bluthner, both more suited to the drawing room as B intended - I think they have a more mellow and intimate sound.

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'Man know thyself'

Rod
11-28-2000, 07:59 PM
Originally posted by Peter:
It was a recording and I have to say it seriously put me off fp's until our lively discussions last year in the 'other place'!

It would be nice if performers didn't always record B's sonatas on Steinways - how about Bosendorfer or Bluthner, both more suited to the drawing room as B intended - I think they have a more mellow and intimate sound.


In the past I've said much the same myself about Bosendorfers, but I don't think I've heard a Bluthner. I've only got one recording of B music on a Bosendorfer. It seems only Steinway can satisfy the average pro these days? I've got fp recordings by at least 10 different Viennese makes alone, then there are the German, Czech and English models to add.

Rod

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

Peter
11-28-2000, 08:35 PM
It stands to reason to me - why should different composers piano music be performed solely on Steinways ? - Chopin for example was known to favour French makes, and Mozart's works are a world apart from Liszt, yet they are performed on the same instrument. There are many other fine makes of modern pianos which I think deserve to be heard more in public and on recordings.


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'Man know thyself'

Rod
11-29-2000, 07:03 PM
Originally posted by Peter:
It stands to reason to me - why should different composers piano music be performed solely on Steinways ? - Chopin for example was known to favour French makes, and Mozart's works are a world apart from Liszt, yet they are performed on the same instrument. There are many other fine makes of modern pianos which I think deserve to be heard more in public and on recordings.



Perhaps Steinway will one day come up with a five octave, all wooden model with simple action and small leather covered hammers for Mozart performers? Perhaps one day Hell will freeze over!

Rod

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