Monday, August 8, 2011

Great Music from Music is the Key

Beethoven SYMPHONIE No. 9

The unique, stupendous composition, which burst the bounds of instrumental music for the first time in the history of the symphony, has been the object of controversy from the very first. Verdi revered the first three movements of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, but was baffled by the last - understandably, considering how ruthlessly Beethoven treats the singing voice. Wagner, for his part, found confirmation there, from the highest conceivable authority, for his tesis that after Beethoven only the word of the poet could redeem music, and that Beethoven himself had thrust open the gate leading to a musical new age: the age of music drama.
But the main reason for objections to the finale is that people confuse "absolute" music with "autonomous" music, and refuse to recognize that this immense variation movement is as much a piece of autonomous music as any aria or any finale by Mozart. The complaints are as olf as the work itself, and added their mite to the perplexity with which Beethoven's late work were met in general. That, at any rate, is what we read. Nevertheless, some amazingly positive opinions were expressed about the symphony in Beethoven's own time. Ignaz von Seyfried, for example, who was incidentally a personal acquaintance of the composer's, in an article written in 1828, described the Ninth as a symphony which "both in scale and in respect of the material and spiritual eleboration surpasses even its older sisters, opulently furnished as they are". (Stefan Kunze.- Translation: Mary Whittall)
FRIEDRICH VON SCHILLER
Ode "An die Freude"
O Freunde, nicht diese Töne,
sondern lasst uns angenehmere
anstimmen, und freundenvollere.

Freude, schöner Götterfunken,
Tochter aus Elysium,
wir betreten feuertrunken,
Himmlische, dein Heiligtum!
Deine Zauber binden wieder,
was die Mode streng geteilt:
alle Menschen werden Brüder,
wo dein snafter Flügel weilt.

Wem der grosse Wurf gelungen,
eines Freundes Freund zu sein,
wer ein holdes Weib errungen,
mische seinen Jubel ein!
Ja, wer auch nur eine Seele
sein nennt auf dem Erdenrund!
Und wer's nie gekonnt, der stehle
weinend sich aus diesem Bund!

Freude trinken alle Wesen
an den Brüsten der Natur,
alle Guten, alle Bösen
folgen ihrer Rosenspur.
Küsse gab sie uns und Reben,
einen Freund, geprüft im Tod;
Wollust ward dem Wurm gegeben,
und der Cherub steht vor Gott.

Froh, wie seine Sonnen fliegen
durch des Himmels prächt'gen Plan,
laufet, Brüder, eure Bahn,
freudig, wie ein Held zum Siegen!

Freude, schöner Götterfunken,
Tochter aus Elysium,
wir betreten feuertrunken,
Himmlische, dein Heiligtum!
Deine Zauber binden wieder,
was die Mode streng geteilt:
alle Menschen werden Brüder,
wo dein snafter Flügel weilt.

Seid umschlungen, Millionen!
Diesen Kuss der ganzen Welt!
Brüder, überm Sternenzelt
muss ein lieber Vater wohnen.

Ahnest du den Schöpfer, Welt?
Such ihn überm Sternenzelt!
Über Sternen muss er wohnen.

Freude, schöner Götterfunken,
Tochter aus Elysium,
wir betreten feuertrunken,
Himmlische, dein Heiligtum!
Seid umschlungen, Millionen!
Diesen Kuss der ganzen Welt!
Ihr stürzt nieder, Millionen?
Ahnest du den Schöpfer, Welt?
Such ihn überm Sternenzelt!
Brüder, überm Sternenzelt
muss ein lieber Vater wohnen!

Freude, Tochter aus Elysium,
deine Zauber binden wieder,
was die Mode streng geteilt!
Alle Menschen werden Brüder,
wo dein sanfter Flügel Weilt.

Seid umschlungen, Millionen!
Diesen Kuss der ganzen Welt!
Brüder, überm Sternenzelt
muss ein lieber Vater wohnen.

Freude, schöner Götterfunken,
Tochter aus Elysium,
Freude, schöner Götterfunken!


LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Symphonie Nr. 9 d-moll op. 125
1) Allegro ma non troppo, un poco maestoso (15:27)
2) Molto vivace (10:17)
3) Adagio molto e cantabile (15:51)
4) Presto (6:06)
5) Presto - "O Freunde, nicht diese Töne!" - Allegro assai (18:11)

HERBERT VON KARAJAN
JANET PERRY, Sopran
AGNES BALTSA, Alt /contralto
VINSON COLE, Tenor
JOSÉ VAN DAM, Bariton
Chorus Master: HELMUTH FROSCHAUER

1984 Polydor International GmbH, Hamburg
1 DDD
410 987-2 GH
You can buy it on Amazon.com
You can download here

Beethoven SYMPHONIE No. 8 - Ouvertüren Fidelio-Leonore III-Coriolan

"Eighth Great Symphony in F major" was the title that appeared on the first edition of 1817. Compared with the Seventh which immediately preceded it, this symphony was reckoned by Beethoven as the "smaller", although this doubtless referred only to the shortness of the Eighth and not in any way to its claims as a work of art, which are just as high. The Eighth was written in an unusually short time during the summer of 1812. The sketches show how intensively Beethoven worked on the composing and polishing of this work, and this is confirmed by the fact that the powerful coda of the first movement was originally 34 bars shorter. They were probably not included at the first performance of the work on 27 February 1814 in the Grosser Redoutensaal in Vienna. Later additions to a finished work are very rare with Beethoven, apart from the case of his opera Leonora (Fidelio). With sovereign ease; and no sacrifice of his own unmistakably individual manner, he seems here - as in the Fourth - to have returned to the basic architectural principles of the Classical symphony in the spirit of Haydn. In the first place he deviates, for instance, from the scherzo-type of movement which he himself had created and returns to the traditional "Tempo di Menuetto" (as early as the First he had quickened the "Menuetto" to an Allegro molto e vivace!) although here too he shows incomparable originality and inventiveness in the matter of construction. (Stefan Kunze.- Translation: Martin Cooper)



LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Symphonie Nr. 8 F-dur op.93
1) Allegro vivace e con brio (8:56)
2) Allegro scherzando (4:00)
3) Tempo di Menuetto (5:59)
4) Allegro vivace (7:08)

Ouvertüre "Coriolan" op. 60
5) Allegro con brio (8:32)

Ouvertüre "Fidelio" op.72b
6) Allegro (6:51)

Ouvertüre "Leonore" III op. 72a
7) Adagio-Allegro (13:53)

BERLINER PHILHARMONIKER
HERBERT VON KARAJAN

1986 Polydor International GmbH, Hamburg
1 CD DDD
415 507-2 GH

You can buy it on Amazon.com
You can download here

Beethoven SYMPHONIEN 5 & 6

The Fifth is one of Beethoven's shortest symphonies (no longer than Mozart's "Jupiter" or several of Haydn's London symphonies), but its genesis was far from brief. It was finished in the spring of 1808, but sketches survive from the years 1804 to 1806. The work on it was not continuous , but was interrupted by the production of an astounding series of other weighty compositions: the G major Piano Concerto, The Fourth Symphony, the Violin Concerto. Then, during 1807, Beethoven was working simultaneously on the Fifht and the "Pastoral", finished only a few months after the Fifth. And, finally, there came the release of this accumulation of creative force over an audience: in a historic concert in the Theater an der Wien, on 22 December 1808, he offered the following programme, made up entirely of works "of his own composition, completely new and not previously heard in public", as the publicity proclaimed: the "Pastoral" Symphony (billed as his no. 5), the concert aria Ah! perfido, several movements from the Mass in C op. 86, the Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major (with the composer as soloist), the Fifth Symphony (billed as no. 6), an improvisation at the piano, and the Choral Fantasy op. 80. One newspaper reported laconically: "There is only one word to describe every aspect of the relization of this concert: unsatisfactory." Only Beethoven's improvisation and playing on the piano were acknowledged to be up to his usual high standard.
The depiction of natural phenomena was a popular feature of eighteenth-century music (thunder-storms being especially popular). The tradition of the pastoral in art reaches back to classical antiquity: the conventionalized idea of the shepherd's life was taken as an epitome of earthly happiness, man and nature in harmony, an Arcadian ideal. This is the tradition to which Beethoven's Sixth Symphony belongs.
In the Fifth Symphony the sentient, subjective mind brings unrivalled, heroic energy and a lofty imagination to the creation of a world. In the "Pastoral" Symphony that same subjective mind , its imagination undimmed and in contempaltive mood, encounters that other might which is enshrined in the concept of nature. (Stefan Kunze.- Translation: Mary Whittall)

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Symphonie Nr. 5 c-moll op.67
1) Allegro con brio (7:18)
2) Andante con moto (9:14)
3) Allegro (4:48)
4) Allegro (8:41)
Symphonie Nr. 6 F-dur op. 68 "Pastorale"
5) Allegro ma non troppo (9:04)
6) Andante molto mosso (10:19)
7) Allegro (3:08)
8) Allegro (3:23)
9) Allegretto (8:25)
BERLINER PHILHARMONIKER
HERBERT VON KARAJAN
1984 Polydor International GmbH, Hamburg
1 CD DDD
413 932-2 GH
You can buy it on Amazon.com

Beethoven SYMPHONIEN 4 & 7

In the later nineteenth century, the Fourth was perhaps the least popular of Beethoven's symphonies. It was felt to lack the heroism and drama, the gravity of the others. Wagner once referred to it as "cold music", though he thought the scherzo "glorious" (herrlich). Berlioz showed more insight: Beethoven had abandoned "ode and elegy... in order to turn back to the less sublime and less stormy, but perhaps no less difficult, style of the Second Symphony. The character is generally lively, fresh, serene or celestially delicate..." Indeed, after the Eroica, the spirit of the Fourth is one of inward and outward tranquillity, allowing objects and figures to be seen in an air clarified by the spirit, as if from a great height.
Beethoven called his Seventh Symphony, dedicated to his patron Count Moritz von Fries, banker and patron of the arts, "one of my best [symphonies]" (to Johann Peter Salomon, 1 June 1815). He could of course have said the same of each of his symphonies. But his saying it of this work is understandable when we consider that four extremely significant and fruitful years in his career had passed between the composition of the Pastoral and that of the Seventh, representing the longest break in the succession of his symphoniv output. It is possible, too, that he was still mindful of the enthusiastic reception the Seventh received at its first performance, at the momentous Academy Concert of 8 December 1813, given for the benefit of those wounded at the battle of Hanau, and also in celebration of the defeat of Napoleon at the battle of Vittoria in northern Spain (21 June 1813). After the first performance in Leipzig some were heard to say that Beethoven must have drunk when writing the first and the last movements, while Weber was alleged to have declared Beethoven to be "ripe for the madhouse". (Stefan Kunze.- Translation: Mary Whittall)

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Symphonie Nr. 4 B-dur op. 60
1) Adagio- Allegro vivace (10:10)
2) Adagio (9:29)
3) Allegro vivace (5:54)
4) Allegro ma non troppo (5:40)

Symphonie Nr. 7 A-dur op. 92
5) Poco sostenuto-Vivace (11:11)
6) Allegretto (7:40)
7) Presto (7:28)
8) Allegro con brio (6:24)

BERLINER PHILHARMONIKER
HERBERT VON KARAJAN

1985 Polydor International, GmbH, Hamburg
1 CD DDD
415 121-2 GH
You can buy it on Amazon.com
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Beethoven SYMPHONIE No. 3 - Ouvertüre "Egmont"

Beethoven's reputation was at its highest in the years 1802-03, which marked a crisis and a turning-point in his life. All four movements of this symphony show the composer embarking on new regions of lofty, monumentalized emotion, as he was doing in other works composed at this period and showing an "elective affinity" with the symphony - the "Kreutzer" Sonata op. 47, the "Waldstein" Sonata op. 53, the "Appassionata" Sonata op. 57 and the Razumovsky Quartets op. 59.
The full title in the original edition of the Third Symphony (1806) is "Sinfonia Eroica...composta per festeggiare il sovvenire di un grand Uomo..." (composed to celebrate the memory of a great man). Beethoven did the main body of work on the symphony in 1803, intending to give it the name "Bonaparte". In those years Napoleon appeared to a large number of leading men of the day , including Hegel and Goethe, as the incarnation of the great personality destined to direct world history and, in general terms, to implement the ideals of the French Revolution. When it was learned in Vienna that in May 1804 Napoleon had proclaimed himself Emperor; Beethoven scratched out Napoleon's name in a rage. Napoleon was "nothing more than an ordinary mortal", he is said to have exclaimed and would "trample on all human rights... become a tyrant".
The Egmont Overture was composed (1809-10) as a part of incidental music, in this case for Goethe's tragedy. The music was commissioned by the director of the Hofburgthater, who had decided to put on Goethe's Egmont and Schiller's Tell. (Stefan Kunze.- Translation: Martin Cooper)

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Symphonie Nr. 3 Es-dur op. 55 "Eroica"
1) Allegro con brio (14:03)
2) Marcia funebre. Adagio assai (16:02)
3) Scherzo. Allegro vivace (6:07)
4) Finale. Allegro molto (12:15)
Ouvertüre "Egmont" op. 84
5) Sostenuto, ma non troppo-Allegro (8:00)

BERLINER PHILHARMONIKER
HERBERT VON KARAJAN

1986 Polydor International GmbH, Hamburg
1 CD DDD
415 506-2 GH

You can buy it on Amazon.com

Beethoven SYMPHONIEN 1 & 2

Beethoven's First Symphony op. 21 was composed in 1799-1800. The first performance of this "Grande Simphonie" (as it was entitled in the first edition of 1801) took place under the composer's direction, together with the Septet op. 20 and one of his piano concertos (either No. 1 in C major op.15 or No. 2 in B flat major op. 19), in the Imperial-Royal National Court Theatre in Vienna. A reviewer declared in the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung of 1800 that it was "probably the most interesting academy for a long time". He found the symphony to be a work in which "there was a great deal of art, novelty and wealth of ideas; the only reservation being that far too much use was made of the wind instruments, so that it was more like a work for wind band than for full orchestra".

Beethoven's unique personal voice is heard with even greater clarity and definition in the Second Symphony op. 36, speaking in a tone steeped in the ardour of his will and the aspiring idealism of his ethos. He composed his D major Symphony in 1801-02, during the period of severe personal crisis, initiated by the onset of his deafness, and movingly documented in the "Heiligenstadt Testament". Heiligenstatdt was the village not far from Vienna where Beethoven spent the summer and early part of the autumn of 1802, and it may have been while he was still there, in October, or immediately after his return to Vienna that he wrote the symphony down in full. Yet the work is filled with vitality and energy , projecting an élan which gives no hint of any psychological or emotional pressures, and it can perhaps be interpreted as a measure of release from those pressures. (Stefan Kunze.-Translation: Mary Whittall)

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)

Symphonie Nr. 1 C-dur op. 21
1) Adagio molto-Allegro con brio (10:04)
2) Andante cantabile con moto (6:18)
3) Menuetto. Allegro molto e vivace (3:55)
4) adagio-Allegromolto e vivace (5:49)

Symphonie Nr. 2 D-dur op. 36
5) Adagio-Allegro con brio (10:27)
6) Larghetto (10:17)
7) Scherzo. Allegro (3:55)
8) Allegro molto (6:26)

BERLINER PHILHARMONIKER
HERBERT VON KARAJAN

1985 Polydor International GmbH, Hamburg
1 CD DDD
415 505-2 GH

You can buy it on Amazon.com
You can download here

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